Saturday, January 28, 2012

Talk to my hand? Talking with my hands?

Typically Finnish people are communicating in quite minimalistic way. The sound of our language is monotonic, there are practically no variations in the pitching. The stress is almost always on the first syllable, which probably makes Finnish sound like a bit angry language. I believe the static tone and stiff rhythm of our native language reflects to our non-verbal communication as well: We don't talk with our hands like Italian. We don't make as rich gestures as Spanish while talking. We don't have a culture of debating like in US, so using tone of voice and little nuances in strategic way is nowhere near to our backbone.

Where should I put my hands? I'm pretty sure that is the question that has been going around in the presidential candidates' mind - even though they are trained and experienced in this field. In my opinion Haavisto is more fluent in his communication. He also uses his hands more when he speaks. On the other hand (pun intended), it's also easier to see from Haavisto's gestures if he's nervous or tense. Niinistö is using more facial expressions when he speaks. In a live appearance Niinistö is usually bit stiffer and quite traditional with his body language, including hands.

Both of the campaign teams have clearly thought through the hand issue in the campaign posters. I think neither of the candidates are exactly hitting the nail, but not failing miserably either. In this case Haavisto takes the safe, traditional and a bit boring approach. I appreciate Niinistö's attempt on doing something different, despite the slightly artificial end result. But I'm very, very happy that the candidates do not fall on the classic cliches: hanging your jacket on the shoulder or touching your chin - thank you!


  1. After 4 years in Finland I started to interpret micro expressions like a subtle grin, or the raise of an eyebrow :)

    I hope I haven't lost any of my genetic hand waving though!

  2. Way to go Roger! The tightness of the jaw muscles and wrinkles between eyebrows are something to keep an eye on too ;) And keep on waving!