In this paper, we present a simple, but effective method of enhancing and exploiting diversity from multiple packet transmissions in systems that employ nonbinary linear modulations such as phase-shift keying (PSK) and quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM). This diversity improvement results from redesigning the symbol mapping for each packet transmission. By developing a general framework for evaluating the upper bound of the bit error rate (BER) with multiple transmissions, a criterion to obtain optimal symbol mappings is attained. The optimal adaptation scheme reduces to solutions of the well known quadratic assignment problem (QAP). Symbol mapping adaptation only requires a small increase in receiver complexity but provides very substantial BER gains when applied to additive white Gaussian noise (AWGN) and flat-fading channels.