Arm Movements and Positions
Apart from gestures, how you move and position your hands also communicates things you might not have intended to.
For instance, if you place one elbow on a table and support your head on your hand in a meeting, this indicates that you are attentive and focused on what is being said.
If you do the same thing with both hands, it can be taken as a sign of boredom. Holding your hands behind your back during a conversation can be taken as a sign of boredom or anger. Crossing your arms in front of you, on the other hand, indicates that you are being defensive or that you are guarded.
Standing with your arms on your hips can be taken as a sign of assertiveness and being in control. In some cases, it can also be seen as a sign of aggressiveness.
Other subtle signals such as expanding the arms widely may be an attempt to seem larger or more commanding while keeping the arms close to the body may be an effort to minimize oneself or withdraw from attention.
When you are evaluating body language, pay attention to some of the following signals that the arms may convey:
- Crossed arms might indicate that a person feels defensive, self-protective, or closed-off.
- Standing with hands placed on the hips can be an indication that a person is ready and in control, or it can also possibly be a sign of aggressiveness.
- Clasping the hands behind the back might indicate that a person is feeling bored, anxious, or even angry.
- Rapidly tapping fingers or fidgeting can be a sign that a person is bored, impatient, or frustrated.