Friday Question 253

By , June 6, 2014 12:11 pm

Do you talk with your hands?

Ha, I don’t mean using sign language! I mean speaking with your mouth, but making gestures with your hands. 


I sure do it. Um, rather animatedly. 

I never understood why I gesture, because I have been told my gestures do nothing to help along my story telling. In fact, I have been told it makes my stories more confusing. Ha!

But this article (pdf here) I stumbled across when writing this shed some light. It theorizes that one of the reasons we gesture is because it helps us organize our thoughts as we speak. I can believe that. Something about it feels natural and does help me tell a story, even if it doesn’t help the story itself. 

The article also suggests that teaching children to gesture when doing math problems could help them learn new problem-solving skills, and says other studies say gesturing could help us remember information and even empathize. Interesting stuff!

11 Responses to “Friday Question 253”

  1. Jen2 says:

    Great picture! I talk with my hands too (I think, no photographic proof like you have above). Actually, don’t most people gesture in some way? It seems like it would be unnatural not to.

    I’ve seen some people do it so violently that it’s actually distracting to the conversation. Maybe there are degrees of gesturing?

    • kilax says:

      Yeah, good point. The question should be about to what extent you gesture – it would be weird not to. And weird to do it so violently. Ha ha.

  2. that is so interesting. i used to teach math…and one of the most BRILLIANT students that i ever taught (read: he’s now an engineering major at MIT) would always gesture while he was solving problems. a lot of it was while he was visualizing the problems in the air in front of his face and mimicking how he would solve the problem. it was almost like a “dress rehearsal” for the work he was going to do on his paper….

  3. Losing Lindy says:

    I have a similar jacket from Costco, I love it.

    I do talk with my hands.

  4. Jan says:

    I have never thought about talking with the hands helping brain processes but that makes sense! I talk w/ my hands a lot. I’m in trouble when I have to use a hand-held microphone because I wave it all over. LOL

  5. Of course I do! I sometimes gesture so furiously that I accidently whack anyone who walks by. Kind of embarrassing. I get a little overenthused I guess…

  6. Rungry says:

    I don’t know much about this line of research but I imagine there must be a cultural element to gesturing. According to my boyfriend I do it a LOT more when I’m conversing in Spanish.

    • kilax says:

      Oh yeah, good point – I bet people gesture a lot more when they are speaking in a non-native tongue! (Well, assuming Spanish is not your 1st language?!)

      • Rungry says:

        English and Spanish are both my 1st languages…but English is definitely the stronger of the two. I wouldn’t be surprised if I gesture more in Spanish because my vocabulary’s a little rusty these days.

  7. Mica says:

    Hm, I’ve never noticed if I talk with my hands! If I do, I assume it’s an “average” amount of hand-talking because no one has ever commented on it. We had a friend in high school who used his hands a lot, and we always teased him about it.

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