Hand Positions - Part 2

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Ah, it's time for the second dish of hand positions. This time we'll talk how hands can create barriers and expose our insecurities.

We'll start with the most known display and it's variations:

Hands behind the Back

This hand position is part of the defensive body language.

Folding the arms creates a shield that protects us from either physical or emotional threat. So it keeps you "safe" but in the same time blocks communication with others.

And as we know, blocking communication is rarely a good thing for building friendly relationships. You inadvertently display hostile or suspicious attitude towards others and their ideas. Yes, even if you didn't mean to.

There are different variations to crossing the arms, and each reflects a somewhat different attitude, such as:

  • Folding the arms with clenched fists is a defensive yet aggressive hand position – protecting with the crossed arms and ready to strike with the fists.

  • If the grip is very tight - it’s a sign for high self restraint, tension or it may be a sign that this person is freezing.

  • A casual arms fold, where one arm “pops out” casually to gesticulate is part of the "opening up" process, it’s only a temporary barrier that will wear off when the ice completely breaks.

  • Crossing only one arm over the body is a more submissive and feminine gesture. It’s not threatening or aggressive, but still shows recessive traits.

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Folding the arms is also a way to show a not-negotiating and firm attitude. Bouncers, for example, adopt this posture to show that there's no room to argue with them, they're not going to budge. Closed body language in that case is equivalent to a closed mind.

If you habitually cross your arms remember that while this gesture may be just comfortable for you, it still sends negative image to others and should be generally avoided.

Hands over Groin

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People will adopt this hands position when feeling insecure and nervous – protecting their femininity or masculinity center zone.

It's similar to the arms folding form in the way that they both display defensive attitude, but this posture is less aggressive and more vulnerable.

It also sends a message of submissiveness, shyness and perhaps innocence. Don't hide behind shields if you want to appear assertive and decisive.

Clasping Hands

Clasping both hands often misinterpreted as confidence or authority, while in fact it reveals something entirely different - frustration and stress.

Remember when we talked about the hand-clasping-hand in the behind the back position? Just like then, clasping the hands is a form of self restraint, holding oneself in place to suppress the tension inside.

and just like then:

There is a correlation between the position of the clasp and the amount of tension. If the hands lay on the table then the tension is milder contrary to clasping the hands in front of the face or over the head.

"Please make it stop..."

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If for example, you stop to have a small talk with someone in work but they keep clasping their hands in front of them you can assume that’s not really into talking with you right now; You may interrupting them during something and they aren't interested in talking with you - it’s their way of barring you out.

The End

That’s it,

I hope you enjoyed the posts and got some new insights regarding our hand positions in body language.

All in all it’s not really a big issue -like I said in the introduction, don't fuss over it, but learn to observe when others blocking you out, and try to avoid negative displays.

You can review the first part on hands positions here.

I also recommend the series on hand gestures , where I focus on the more dynamic nature of hands in communication.

You can return to the main body language signs chapter here

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