Holding the Ball

Practical Applications for Nonverbal Intelligence and the Emotional Indicators of Speaking with Your Hands

By David M. Schneer, Ph.D./CEO

4-Minute Read

If I told you that by simply holding a ball while you speak it would dramatically increase your communications effectiveness, you’d likely wonder about me. But it’s true. Stay with me.

When you see someone gesticulating with their hands, it is a reliable indicator that they are engaged, expressive, and interested. It almost seems as though they are drawing with their hands. It looks like this.

So, use your hands when you talk, especially in a job interview or in a presentation. Your hands have a language of their own.

But, back to the ball, forming a sphere with your hands as you speak helps to provide form around the words that come out of your mouth, thereby making them more credible. Steve Jobs was famous for this, so much so that body language pundits entitled this gesture, “Holding the Ball.”

The same with former President Bill Clinton. While running for Governor of Arkansas he had a horrible habit of flailing his arms around. But after some training, Clinton began to form a box with his hands as he spoke. As such, he became a much more effective communicator. Body language pundits nicknamed this gesture, “The Clinton Box.”[1]

And while we’re up, let’s talk about pointing. Nobody likes a finger pointed or wagged at them. This guy will make no friends as a “pointer.”

But this guy gets lots of attention.

He’s learned to blade, which is a less intrusive way to make a point.

So, stop pointing and learn to blade, hold the ball or draw the box.

Putting It All Together

When I interview people, this is one of the things I look for. Hand movements. Are the hands expressive, smooth, or inviting or, are they erratic, asymmetrical, or distracting? If the former, I am likely in for a good and productive interview with articulate answers. With the latter, it can be frustrating when a person cannot communicate their thoughts. Getting someone like this to talk can be a lot like dentistry, pulling one tooth at a time.

Contact us today to see how we can help you or your organization become proficient at finding out what people are really thinking when they communicate with you.

Most Communication is Nonverbal. Are You Fluent?