London - You might intend it as a way to demonstrate humour or add emphasis to a word.
But chances are that using your fingers to create speech marks as you talk is sending out an altogether different – and unintended – message.
For the sign has been voted the hand gesture most likely to irritate us.
Second place in the poll – which didn’t include obscene gestures – was the American-style “talk to the hand” signal, intended to stop someone speaking to you.
Others guaranteed to make the blood boil were putting a finger to the nose to depict “none of your business” and “blah blah blah”, where people touch their thumb and forefinger to imitate a chatty mouth.
Rounding off the top five was “the pistol” – where two fingers and thumb are used to form a gun.
The research found that a quarter of us actively try to stop ourselves using gestures.
But not all hand signals received the metaphorical thumbs down. Wiggling an imaginary pint glass to ask for a drink or shushing someone with a finger to your lips were seen as useful.
It was also found that the average person uses four hand gestures a day, yet one in five feel embarrassed at how often they rely on them.
More than a third of the study of 2,000 people said they were less likely to trust those who use too many hand gestures, while more than half admitted becoming annoyed at someone who talks with their hands too much.
The most irritating gestures also included the traditional “call me” motion, where the hand is used to represent a phone; putting the fingers to the eyes to signify “I’m watching you”; “zip it,” where a person pretends to zip up their mouth to tell someone to stop talking; and rubbing fingers and thumb together to denote cash.
A spokesman for iPhone game Goggle Eyes, which commissioned the research, said: “While a hand gesture can be a powerful communication tool, using too many or simply some of the more annoying ones is a sure-fire way to losing credibility.
“Most of the more irritating gestures originated out of a need to communicate quickly and transcend language barriers – but it doesn’t take much for a gesture to seem cheesy or informal.
“It’s about being able to recognise how to use gestures and for which audiences – sometimes they’re funny and entertaining but, often, they’re just annoying.”
TOP TEN IRRITANTS
Extending palm outwards to mean “talk to the hand”
Tapping nose for “none of your business”
Touching fingers to thumb to mean “blah blah blah”
Making a pistol with your fingers
Punching your hand to suggest violence
Pointing at eye for “I’m watching you”
Making a phone with your hand to indicate “call me”
A fake yawn
Slicing your throat with a finger
Finger faux pas: The “speech marks” - Daily Mail