Monday, November 14, 2011

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 349:
Pointing with Two Fingers (or more)

When you're speaking and you feel the need to point, there are several different ways to do so. Some are better and some are horrific. The more digits you use to point with, the more it "softens" the point - and the less you offend. If done correctly, you'll build rapport with your audience - even an audience of one. It is best to point with the entire hand - with all five digits approximately three-quarters extended but still relaxed and the palm directed upwards. The wrist, elbow and shoulder should be relaxed as well. The more fully extended (and thus more tense) these joints are - the greater a similar level of tension will be displayed on the face. These tensions feed off each other. Here Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister of Australia, points with two fingers and her thumb - however because of the 95% full extension of these digits as well as a similar effort in her entire arm - although it has less sting than the classic one-finger point, she would be well advised to further mellow-out this gesture. Pointing is a universally negative nonverbal - regardless of your culture or country.

Everyone can remember a parent telling us when we were very young, "...don't point, it's rude...", or some variation on this theme - and yet very many an accomplished and otherwise skilled adult commits this body language sin all too often..... a' la David Stern (see: Negotiation Secret # 339: Don't Point at Me! I'm Not Your Child!) Whom have you pointed at today?