Arms Body Language


Human beings have different defense mechanisms that they use to protect themselves from hurt and other negative emotions. Even little kids have different ways of protecting themselves including hiding behind chairs and tables. Some kids will also hide behind their parents when they see something scary. Arms body language can help you know what a person may be feeling at a certain point in time. Below are some of the signs that we exhibit using our arms.

Crossed arms

This is when you have your arms neatly folded across your chest to protect the lungs, heart, breasts for women and other vital organs. This gesture is mostly done when one is negative towards something, has a defensive attitude or is feeling nervous. One interesting fact of life is the fact that even monkeys perform the same gesture when they feel threatened. This gesture can be commonly seen in cashier shopping lines, elevators, public meetings with strangers and anywhere else where we may feel uncertain or insecure about our surroundings.

Crossed Arms With Fists

Another gesture of the arms is the clenching of fists while arms are crossed. This is a powerful sign of defensiveness and hostility. This is actually an attacking and aggressive attitude which you need to watch out for. There are people who will hardly cross their arms. These include bouncers, policemen and bodyguards who have a weapon. For them, the weapons will provide enough security therefore they will not have to use this gesture.

Self-Reassurance Cross

This gesture involves someone crossing their arms and tightly grabbing their elbows or biceps. This displays an insecure, restrained, negative and fearful attitude. If you wonder why the fetus position exists, it is the topmost self-reassurance physical action. Here we use our legs and knees to protect vital body organs. We also lock our bodies in that position using our arms and lowering of our vulnerable neck and head. Such gestures are commonly found in doctor waiting rooms, hospitals, airport lounges which have first time travellers and also defendants in court room hearings.

Arms Crossed With Thumbs

A display of thumbs signifies a self-confident inner attitude. This can be seen often where a person feels like they are in control and cool. Meanwhile, they still maintain a certain level of protection with the arm crossed just in case. You can see this in an exam whereby students are confident they can correctly answer but they still feel threatened by the fact that something may go wrong.

One Crossed Arm

This gesture involves one arm going across the chest and touching the elbow or bicep of the opposite arm. When going through a distressful moment as kids, our parents would hug or embrace us. Adults cross one arm to recreate that comforting feeling. The gesture is similar to a self-hug. It is mostly done by women more than men. This gesture can be commonly found in groups where one of the people is a stranger and therefore lacks self-confidence.

Self Holding Hands

This is the male version of “one crossed arm”. It is mostly used by men who lack self-confidence or are insecure in a certain situation. This is a pose which can be found in men who are about to speak to a large crowd and feel nervous, at funerals and can be seen in homeless men who are waiting for a plate of food or awaiting receipt of a social security benefit. Men feel secure when they hide their testicles. This gesture is an unconscious way of avoiding a frontal blow. One obvious example of this is when soccer players make a barrier when a free shot is almost being made.

Subtle Arm Crosses

People if high status like politicians and celebrities cannot afford to seem unsure about themselves or nervous since they are always in the limelight. For this reason, they cannot afford to walk with crossed arms or hands protecting their crotches. They therefore choose more subtle ways to cross their arms and once again get the feeling of security. Men will scratch their wrists, fiddle with their rings and adjust their cufflinks or watches among other gestures. Women have more advantages in this since they wear more jewelry and accessories that they can fiddle around with and adjust.

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