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Why are you folding your arms?

October 11, 2012

The signals we give out through body language can have unintended effects on our relationships and interactions with others.

Folding your arms, for example, tugging at your sleeve to adjust your clothes, or checking your phone.  You may see these as simple gestures to kill time or fill space, but they can be interpreted as defensive.

Anna Jasolka leads courses in human observation and body language for acting students, and in her book “How To Read And Use Body Language” says that arm gestures can be used as ways for us to hide behind barriers:

“We fold our arms as a gesture of self-protection, creating a barrier that is in effect shielding our chest and heart.  This gesture tends to keep people at bay.  Notice when you fold your arms, and consider what might be making you feel defensive.

“Though you may think that this is simply a comfortable way to sit or stand, research shows that in most cases folded arms are instigated by a negative thought that leads us to want, temporarily, to keep people at a distance.”

What do you think?  Who are you keeping at bay with your body language?  And is that the outcome you want?

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