Some of you may remember Professor Geoff Beattie as the Big Brother psychologist who would give insight into what was going on in the house and what the contestant's body language could tell you about them.
Some of his most interesting work is about the amount of information which is transmitted by hand gestures. Many body language books will explain in detail what specific gestures are supposed to mean. Beattie's work suggests that the gestures can work in conjunction with what we are saying to provide additional information. Sometimes these gestures will add contextual information which doesn't come out in the words we say. Sometimes our gestures can contradict the spoken message. For example, if someone is telling you that a deal is really close to being signed but as they say this their hands move a long way apart then it may not be as close as they are saying.
After reading his book 'Visible Thought' recently and discovering the video below, I've started to watch people's hands much more closely. One of the most interesting things is to see situations when people's hands aren't on view and where all this additional information is being lost.
The webcams built into laptops often have too small a field of view to see our hands. I was on a call recently with some of my colleagues and realised I was gesturing a lot but no one could see it. Pushing your laptop slightly further back or consciously raising your hands into the field of view can help reduce the amount of information that is being lost.
As we move more and more into digitally enabled workplaces, it's important to be really conscious of what is being lost by any particular form of communication as well as what is being gained.