Before Language

· Blog

Have you ever traveled overseas? When you met someone for the first time, what was one of the first things you did? Most of us would raise a hand to say hello. What about when you go to a restaurant, how do you ask for the bill? No matter where you go, the universal sign seems to be a gesture with your hand as if you were signing a cheque. One theory as to how language was formed is called the Gestural theory. This states that human language developed through gestures that were used for simple communication. It wasn’t really important what the gesture was, because when you think about the origins of a gesture, it could’ve really been anything (well, maybe not anything). It was about why the gesture was being made. The primitive forms of communication worked because they knew why they were trying to communicate. Two types of evidence support this theory. The first being that gestural language and vocal language depend on similar neural systems i.e. the regions on the cortex (brain) that are responsible for mouth and hand movements border each other. The second is the fact that non-human primates use gestures or symbols for primitive communication. Some of their gestures even resemble those of humans, such as the ‘begging posture’, with hands stretched out in front.

We are not so different, you and I...

In our day to day, we still communicate using gestures. Whether it is pointing out a particular item or giving somebody directions, we constantly use gestures or actions to communicate. We wave goodbye or nod our head in agreement for the most part without uttering a word. Babies will naturally rub their eyes when they are tired, or make sucking noises when they are hungry, when they want to play; they make eye contact with you and smile. So what is your body language saying about you? More importantly, what is it saying about your business? The confidence you reflect in your business is a direct consequence of why you do what you do. The WHY is more important than the HOW and the WHAT. We’re too busy thinking about how we’re communicating, and about what, to think about why we’re doing it in the first place. If nobody knows what you’re about, well then you’re just another duck, in a line of ducks. The next time you feel you aren’t getting your message across, check your body language. Or more importantly, check theirs. What is it saying? Do they (the client, your mother, or even a stranger) know what you’re about? If there’s no passion behind the why, then the what probably isn’t going to be so memorable. “Words should be used as tools of communication and not as a substitute for action” – Anonymous. You can safely presume then, that actions really do speak louder than words. Anthony is the Brand and Marketing Strategist for Yellow Sneakers, a Brand & Marketing Strategy Consultancy that specialises in helping businesses & organisations develop their brand. Anthony will talk about purpose driving a brand or business at the next Short Takes, using the example of TOMS shoes, which was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie.

Written by robert · · Blog
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