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More on gestures….where did that come from?

November 11, 2009

We recieved such a great response to last week’s newsletter that we had to add a part 2 and focus again on gestures, a form of non-verbal communication. Have you ever been scolded for not covering your mouth while yawning or talking during your dinner? Since these gestures are natural, we are often not aware of their impact on others.

Many of these courtesies and nonverbal cues can be traced back to the Middle Ages, to the era of kings and queens, chivalry and knights in shining armor. Some were created to be courteous, some were meant to be symbolic, and some were simply matters of logic. Let’s learn the significance of some of these…

The Story Behind The Handshake
An empty hand presented forward to another person, and receiving the same response, was the easiest and most recognizable way to show the other person that you weren’t holding a weapon! Therefore, a handshake meant they were going to talk instead of fight.

Let’s Salute
If a knight in a suit of full armor wanted to talk with a friend, he would have to remove the barrier, i.e., lift his visor. His hand thus ended up at his forehead to lift the visor. A salute indicated lifting the helmet visor, so that the knight could talk instead of fight.

76494312Yawning? Cover Your Mouth!
This has two logics to it. On a religious level if you yawned, with your mouth wide open, the Devil could reach right in and yank out your soul. Secondly, in the Middle Ages bathing was considered unhealthy, so most of the peasants and nobility stank badly. So it seemed logical to cover one’s mouth while yawning.

Raising a Toast
Toast and clinking of glasses together was originally done so that when the glasses clinked, the drinks sloshed together on impact. This meant that whatever was in one drink passed into both glasses. So if someone was planning to drug a friend, he too would get some!

Keep Your Elbows Off The Table!
Why is it rude? First thing to bear in mind is that back in the old days people sat down to dinner, squeezed into a long table that was set into a row. This meant that each person was packed very tightly in between the people on either side of him, and simply didn’t have much room to eat. The elbows weren’t allowed on the table because if someone had their elbows on the table, the other people couldn’t eat.

Consult with Protocol, Inc. for more information and history on nonverbal communication.  We love hearing from you by email and would appreciate you subscribing to our newsletter by adding your name and email by clicking here Sign Up for the Polished Professionaland send this newsletter to your friends who care about their professional image. 

Let us know if our organization would like a discounted holiday workshop in November or December.  A Protocol, Inc. gift to you!

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