Gesture is a kind of speaking with the body. The body makes pictures, and these pictures seem to speak. What the pictures say, though, is not always quite what they show. For example, if I want to sew a button on a shirt, I will put my hand into a particular shape to hold the needle. If I make the same hand shape while talking to you, I will create an idea about myself that I hope will be planted in your mind. Exactly what idea, though, would depend on the way in which I perform the gesture – in other words, upon my behavioural style. It may be that I try to create the idea that I have a precise grasp of the subject under discussion; in this case, my intention may be to show you that I am a precise, i.e. conscientious, competent person. Or perhaps the gesture says that in my opinion things are OK between us, so by performing it I may be trying to show you that my intentions towards you are warm – that I am a sociable, agreeable kind of person. In this book, then, I am less interested in how gesture adds information to a persons speech – which is a common belief about gesture – and more in how gesture may be used to create an idea about the speaker in another person’s mind.
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