Can we communicate solely through gestures?

To those who say communication is key in a successful relationship… Katie Price, aka English glamour model Jordan, has proved you wrong…

Just in case you are not up-to-date on Jordan’s latest romantic liaisons, she is currently dating an Argentinian named Leandro Penna.  As reported in The Guardian, in a recent interview she gave, it conspired that the couple do not talk as they do not share a common language, and that actions do apparently speak louder than words.  An example given by Leandro is that sometimes he will be sitting and moving his head, and Jordan will realise that he is looking for the remote control.  She also commented that “In the car, I’ll think, I bet he wants his glasses, just before he asks for his glasses.”  (This does raise the question: how does he ask for his glasses if he can’t speak English and she can’t speak Spanish?!  In addition, if he can ask for them, why does it matter that she thought that’s what he was going to ask before he did so?!)

In a recent post, I discussed the scientific theory that the way we speak can affect our compatability with another person.  Then again, if the connection is so deep, perhaps we do not need to exchange words to communicate, therefore it would appear we do not need to speak a mutual language in order to exchange thoughts and ideas with someone.

However, delving deeper into this subject, if we rely on gestures and signals rather than words, it is important to realise that not all gestures are universal. Pointing, beckoning and waving can prove very useful to communicate with other nationalities, for example when on holiday in a country where our grasp of the local language is limited or even non-existent. However, take heed – whilst you may be trying to convey one thing, the locals you are communicating with may take an entirely different meaning!

Waving – a simple, friendly common hand gesture in a lot of countries – is offensive in Greece, whilst a thumbs up sign made with your hand, seen as a sign of approval in a number of countries, is extremely offensive in Iran, Nigeria and Iraq, amongst others. The “A-OK” sign, made by putting your first finger and thumb together to make a circle, again carries positive connotations in a lot of countries, meaning “OK”. However, in some Arab countries, it can be threatening, meaning “You’ll see!”, and in Japan means “zero” or “nothing”.

So, whilst gestures and signals can be extremely useful, in order to emphasise what we are saying in any language, or to communicate with someone with whom we do not share a common language, we must take care that we are definitely conveying the message intended!