Monday, April 23, 2012

The Power of Hands

Submissive dogs reveal their throats. Humans show their palms.

When people want to be open or honest, they will often hold one or both palms out. When someone is concealing something, they often hide their palms behind their back, shove hands in pockets or arms-crossed.

There are 3 main palm command gestures:

1. Palm up
Submissive, nonthreatening, or pleading.

2. Palm Down
Authority. Think of the Nazi salute.

3. Palm Closed
Also, palm closed with pointed finger. Wants listeners to submit.

Rubbing palms together shows positive expectancy.

Hands clenched together might seem a sign of confidence. It actually shows restrained, anxious, frustrated or negative attitude. The higher the position of the clenched hands the higher the person's frustration.

The Steeple is used when superiors give instruction or advice to subordinates. The steeple should be avoided when you want yo be persuasive.

The Face Platter is a positive form of flirting. A woman will place one hand on top of the other and lay her chin on top.

Hands Behind Back is a gesture of superiority, confidence and power.

Hand Gripping Wrist communicates frustration and attempt at self-control.

Do any of your characters do these gestures? Should they?


Andrea said...

I've been watching for this stuff, in movies and real life. Very interesting.

Jenna Cooper said...

It's interesting because I feel like we instinctively know this, but can forget while writing sometimes. Very interesting post!

Lauren said...

Oh, yes. Human language would be rather bland without the hand-language to match. In books we don't see it as much because we think in verbal language, but it's definitely a part of language. Many people can't talk without moving their hands.

So here's a quote from one of mine:

"My hands were moving again. Some people can't talk without moving their hands—I can't think without moving mine."

I'm tagging you for the 7-7-7 challenge. Go to my blog ( to find the details!

Taffy said...

Do you think girls use their hands to express themselves more than guys?

Good point, Jenna! Hadn't thought about it that way.

Michelle said...

This is great stuff, thanks. Truthfully, I'm such a novice writer that I hadn't thought about hand language. This will get me started.

Taffy said...

Good luck getting started again, Michell!

Teri Harman said...

Awesome post! Hands say so much.

Julie Daines said...

I usually agree with the messages of body language. But do you think sometimes people read too much into certain gestures? I'm going to have to pay better attention to my own gestures and see what signals I'm sending.

Yamile said...

Being Latina, I gesticulate a lot! I'm always after my son for his body language. I'd mention, "Don't do the hand!"
Because with his face and words he'll say something, but he says the opposite with his hands :-)

Great post, Taffy!

Jenny Morris said...

Luv this. I've never thought about what these all mean.

Taffy said...

Julie, I think it's easy to read too much into gestures. When giving talks I might see someone who looks totally bored or are doodling but in fact have to focus elsewhere to listen better.

Taffy said...

I love it, Yamille! 'Don't do the hand!'