Tag Archive for Emotion

Nose Language

chg

When people are stressed, blood flushes into the skin.  Our hands are then drawn to the areas most affected due to increased sensitivity and heat so we tend to point out our stress.  Enlarged capillaries in the nose can induce our hands in it’s direction to sooth it.  As blood flows to the nose, it enlarges, giving credence to the ‘Pinocchio effect.’

Nose touching might also stem from lying. It can happen as a quick but purposeful touch, the finger might graze the side of the nose, or it can be a persistent rubbing. Sometimes the touch is quick and dirty in an up and down motion, other times it is a brief almost unnoticeable touch to the base of the nose or its side. Face touching can come in two forms, one that serves a real function to alleviate an itch, and one that is the result of negative feelings such as being uncomfortable and stressed. Face touching that is due to an emotion is meant as a fix behind the sensation, the emotion, and not due to any physical need.

In order to appear more honest in front of others, either reduce or eliminate all face touching, make them appear more natural, or make them consistent in affect across all situations. Itching is usually a repetitive isolated gesture, which happens regardless of what is said, and happens at times when it would be impossible to assume a connection to what is being said. For example, saying something of questionable truthfulness, then brushing the side of the nose with an index finger is likely to raise suspicion, whereas bumping the nose when not speaking or when describing insignificant details would go unnoticed. Always try to make gestures appear natural and functional instead and also be particularly conscious of nose and face touching when you think someone is trying to peg you a liar. Over time it is your baseline that will give you away, so if you remain consistent across all situations, you’re less likely to give up tells. Most will find that their minds are more active and busy during lying, so it’s easier to avoid gestures altogether instead of adding honest gestures. This makes eliminating face touching one of the easiest ways to appear honest with minimal effort.

Lying Is Hard Work?

Is she constructing a lie or trying to recall the facts?

Is she constructing a lie or trying to recall the facts?

Some researchers argue that deceptive messages requires more mental processing because one needs to create facts instead of simply recalling and describing them. In truth tellers emotion flows effortlessly, but those who are faking it, have to foster theirs and while liars are playing a role, truth tellers are just living. With an increase in pressure, such as one might experience during cross-examination in law proceedings, liars might be faced with an unexpected question catching them off guard. Pathological liars are constantly having to mentally catalog their lies and then entwine them with lies told previously which is confusing. This makes liars who are caught off guard more likely to delay responding and increase pauses as they attempt to create information while simultaneously comparing it to information otherwise presented. They must also compare information to possible information already known to the listener. It has been said that for every one lie originated, two to three other lies must be created to back it up. This can become mentally taxing and is a process not required of truth tellers. While pauses in speech are not definitive cues to deception by itself, since remembering the truth is sometimes difficult as well, pausing, when it is obvious that the answer should be known, can serve to betray a liar.

Thus, we can expect that when someone is caught with difficult questions that they should exhibit more nonverbal leakage and might even ‘appear’ to be thinking harder. Some researchers therefore have linked avoiding eye contact, or looking away to think as a signal of mental processing and lying. However, as we have seen, looking away sometimes helps us recall real to life events so this, in and of itself, is not an indication of lying. Using eye direction was outlined in an earlier section, but it’s important to note that baselining must first be accomplished for this to be anywhere near accurate. Right and left handed persons will look in different direction depending on whether they are creating information or recalling it.

A way liars use to reduce the work to carry out lies is to prepare the details in advance. In this condition we should expect more eye contact, gestures and overall movement because less stress is put on the mind, and so the body should appear more relaxed. When a liar is not afforded the time to prepare to tell a lie their movement should be less fluid and their behaviour should exhibit changes in frequencies especially nervousness. Liars that prepare their lies in advance will have fewer inconsistencies in their stories, but might appear overly rehearsed whereas liars that can’t prepare will seem to be over thinking. Thus when truth telling, there should be an inherent fluidity about the conversation. Other research tells us that liars are less forthcoming than truth tellers and tell less compelling tales. The stories they tell also have fewer ordinary imperfections and unusual contents.

Additional Emotional Body Language

A whole host of other body language is associated with emotion and fear such as a pale face, dry mouth, damp eyes, avoiding eye contact, trembling, speech errors, voice tremors, varying speech tone, increases in sweating, tension and jerky movements, gasping or holding breath, red face or neck, widening of the eyes or raised eyebrows, grimacing and trying to change the topic. Be aware too, of smiles that are dishonest or faked or stress filled as these can be a dead giveaway which was covered in an earlier chapter. These smiles will be quickly flashed across the face or permanently held under extreme anxiety where only the lips are stretched across the face.

Neck And Nose Body Language

Covering the suprasternal notch is one of the nonverbal signals that is unmistakable and also reliable in predicting emotional distress, one that shouldn’t be ignored.

Covering the suprasternal notch is one of the nonverbal signals that is unmistakable and also reliable in predicting emotional distress, one that shouldn’t be ignored.

The neck is an area that becomes particularly sensitive under pressure and like the cheeks, it becomes red and engorged with blood when we become nervous. Women are particularly prone to bringing their hand up to the “suprasternal notch” which is the dimple just below the neck between the Adam’s apple and the breast bone when nervous, distressed, threatened, insecure, fearful or uncomfortable. Covering the suprasternal notch is one of the nonverbal signals that is unmistakable and also reliable in predicting emotional distress, one that shouldn’t be ignored.

While touching the neck and nose can be the result of fear or nervousness they can also be meant as pacifying behaviours. Pacifying behaviours happen automatically, our brains send a message to our bodies that we need to be pacified and out go our hands to serve the purpose. As always, it is important to decide what kind of emotion has demanded the body language, be it nervousness as a result of sweating (discussed below), or because there is an underlying threat causing fear that requires soothing.

Stress causes an increase in temperature which we try to relieve by "venting."

Stress causes an increase in temperature which we try to relieve by “venting.”

Motioning toward our neck, scratching it, or pulling at a collar indicates we are “getting hot under the collar.” Humans sweat in response to external temperature increases but also due to emotional stress. In the case of emotional sweating, it is mostly restricted to the palms, soles of the feet and forehead. However, when we become emotionally aroused our metabolic rate revs-up and we burn more calories. This creates not just local sweating, but sweating throughout the body. Those under pressure can be seen sweating voraciously under the armpits and down their backs even leaving visible stains. Scratching the palms, in particular, has been shows to be a reliable indicator of stress but so too is scratching the neck. Scratching is in response to the tingling sensation we feel on our necks as the sweat increases and uncomfortable chaffing begins between tight collars and the skin. While some experts purport that sweating can indicate lying, it’s actually a signal of frustration and heightened emotion in response to pressure, and that this pressure can stem from anything, including simply being “put on the spot.”

Itchy nose or does this mean something else?

Itchy nose or does this mean something else?

Our noses can also signal stress, but more often signal disgust. The nose is full of blood vessels so when we are stressed they fill up with blood just like the ears and neck. A person under stress will frequently go to their nose and touch it, scratch it or rub it. Touching the nose has been linked to lying, but like most lie detection cues, they aren’t absolute or reliable. We can tell when something is out of the ordinary when someone touches their nose for no reason. They might wipe it with the back of their hand or come up and touch it lightly with their index finger. The astute will find it obvious when someone is touching their nose for the purpose of alleviating an itch instead of alleviating a lie (or negative thought). Scratching is directed, specific, deep and vigorous, showing that some amount of waiting was done before the gesture was performed. Thus more relief is present when the itch is real. Itching due to negative emotions is general, shallow or glancing. This type of itch is done by bringing the index finger up, by example and lightly touching the side of the nose where the nail is not used at all. That is no real scratching is taking place.

An anti-politician gesture - you'd never see this type of uncertainty in any contender.

An anti-politician gesture – you’d never see this type of uncertainty in any contender.

When we touch our face, we indicate indecision and insecurity.

When we touch our face, we indicate indecision and insecurity.

Have you ever noticed how infrequently politicians touch their faces while in public and when they absolutely have to, they make it look deliberate and minimal? They raise just one finger and scratch a specific area, than they bring their hand back to their sides or use their hands to liven their speech. When trying to appear honest, we should follow their example. Keep face touching to a minimum, use it specifically, use the nail of the finger to show purposeful itching, and when finished resume normal open and honest gesturing.

When ready people for honesty, be careful not only to watch for cues, but also be watchful of cues that should be present, but aren’t. For example, if someone is describing emotional stress, they should exhibit classic nonverbal behaviours. A woman claiming to have swerved to miss an animal sending her automobile into the ditch should be agitate and on edge, perhaps covering her suprasternal notch as she recounts the details. Failing to exhibit the appropriate cues tells us that she might be trying to pull a fast one on us, perhaps trying to claim insurance so as to benefit from a payout. Looking for cues that should be there, but aren’t, are sometimes cues in and of themselves.

Clenching And Gripping

Fists into a ball is a classic expression of discomfort.  The natural position for the hands is loose and relaxed, so when they ball-up, we know something is creating negative emotions.

Fists into a ball is a classic expression of discomfort. The natural position for the hands is loose and relaxed, so when they ball-up, we know something is creating negative emotions.  A smile, in this case, indicates stress, not happiness.

Clenching and gripping are signals of frustration and restraint. They are very different then the relaxed palm in palm gesture discussed in a previous chapter. A classic gripping posture happens when the hand opposite reaches behind the back and grabs the wrist of the opposite arm. We know it shows frustration because it serves to relieve tension through gripping, an energy displacement mechanism, and serves to show restraint because the hand is gripping the arm in effort to prevent them from striking out against another person.

Gripping, especially intensely, helps us feel more relaxed because the pain releases pleasure hormones and adrenaline. The same could be achieved through more constructive mechanisms like running, exercise, or constructing something useful, but like all forms of body language, the solutions come from an archaic part of the brain through evolution (or accident), so we are not interested in doing constructive work at a time when our minds are dealing with stress. In other words, we just want a quick, immediate fix for the anxiety, and wringing the hands helps sooth and pacifies us without having to leave the area. Most minds deal poorly with stress and can’t function normally without dealing with the source, so the last thing we want to do is leave the area in which the problem has arisen without a solution. Wringing the hands is a gesture that is seen in people the world over. At times the fingers may become interlaced appearing as if in prayer, which might even be the case. Pressure can be so great that the fingers can even blanch as blood flow is impeded.

Extreme anxiety causes the desire to control the pain by inflicting it against ourselves.  It gives back our sense of control over our anxiety.  People who resort to 'cutting' also seek to displace their anxiety and control it.

Extreme anxiety causes the desire to control the pain by inflicting it against ourselves. It gives back our sense of control over our anxiety. People who resort to ‘cutting’ also seek to displace their anxiety and control it.

Pacing is a classic full-blown signal of anxiety, and falls into the same energy displacement category because it gives us something to do and burns extra calories in a trickle to make us feel more relaxed. Clenching and gripping are ways of signaling that a negative thought or emotion is being held back. A more intense hand gripping posture happens when the arm grips higher up near the elbow or upper arm. The higher the grip, the more frustration is present and the more self control is expressing. Clenching and gripping postures occur anytime stress and anger is present, such as waiting to see a doctor or dentist, awaiting bad news, or during conflict.

Another form of clenching that shows emotional restraint happens with the hands in a raised position instead of being hidden behind the back. This form of clenching appears as if the hands are being rung out by each other, as we would a wet article of clothing. Smiling does not negate the gesture either, and even alludes to a greater than normal tension. Smiles when accompanied by wringing, are called “stress smiles” or grimacing. The hands can be held in front of the face, resting on the desk or lap or when standing, in front of the crotch, but once again, the higher the clenching appears the more prevalent and obvious is the tension.

Hand wringing allows us to 'control' our pain and discomfort - it gives us an outlet.

Hand wringing allows us to ‘control’ our pain and discomfort – it gives us an outlet.

The hands and feet are key places to verify anxiety and will be the usual suspects in betraying emotions. They move easily and freely from the rest of the body and can be used to burn energy and release stress anxiety without requiring the body to move large distances. Because they can be moved independent of the body, they also tend to leak information more readily. Therefore, to read anxiety carefully watch for tapping toes or fingers, or feet that move frequently or never seem to find a comfortable position as well as any other repetitive behaviours. Foot movements will show more restraint than hand movements especially if someone is trying to hide their fears from others.

Jaw clenching.

Jaw clenching.

Clenching and gripping can have many other forms as well, including clenching the jaws tight or even talking through the teeth, cracking knuckles, pulling the hair or even plucking it, pinching one’s self, and clenching the fists by turning them into a ball. In my observations of other people, I have noticed some peculiar emotional behaviour that includes the grotesque such as squeezing pimples to plucking nose hairs to more damaging and extreme behaviours such as hitting the head and scratching called “self harm” but can include any other painful and repetitive behaviours serving to sooth emotional stress.

The more astute will notice tension from something so minor that most won’t even notice, and the carrier of which, will have no conscious awareness. That is, sitting in an awkward position, or rather, sitting in a less than fully relaxed position. This cue tells us that they won’t and can’t permit themselves to take on a more relaxed position because they should be doing something else more pressing or useful. Perhaps watching television isn’t of highest priority when one weighs the importance of a report or an essay for school, that the house needs tending to, or family time has been ignored. Notice a fully relaxed position for a person over time, and then note when they aren’t holding it, then you’ll know something isn’t right in their minds! Identify the pattern, call them out on it, and then look like a genious!

Freeze, Flight or Fight

Even the fear facial expression is a classic "freeze" response.  It's as if the face has been caught in a flash of emotion.

Even the fear facial expression is a classic “freeze” response. It’s as if the face has been caught in a flash of emotion.

The fight or flight response is a bit a misnomer. It’s not actually how humans or other animals respond to stress and danger. Lazy by nature and especially cautious of injury, recall we didn’t have doctors and hospitals thousands of years ago and even today most animals receive no secondary care from veterinarians, we have evolved the proclivity to handle situations in more appropriate ways. Most animals, humans included, will naturally sequence freeze, flight and flight in that order. Freezing is important to assess the situation, for how does one know what they are running from, and in what direction, if they don’t first identify the object of their fear.

White-tailed deer will first begin by winding predators, and if they sense that it is close, may seemingly flee instantly, but usually they will freeze in place to first identify the type of predator, human or other, its location, and its proximity. They do this by tilting their heads back and passing deep breaths into their lungs through their noses and over a specialized fluid filled structure called the vomeronasal organ. For deer, it is their sense of smell that is their primary means of safety. Since their eyes are much less acute than their noses, they rely on catching movement from predators especially when they are being stalks from downwind when scenting isn’t an option. When movement is caught, deer will try to “flush” the danger by stomping a foot rhythmically before fleeing. The foot stomp is a deer’s way of nonverbally signaling to a predator that they have been made, that the “jig is up”, so to speak, and that it’s time to identify themselves. The deer knows that a predator is in the vicinity though sight, smell and sound, or possibly just has a hunch that something is amiss, and instead of fleeing outright wants to be totally certain before “hightailing it!” To a deer, or human, running at all potential danger is wasteful and time consuming and not always appropriate. By the way, the deer put his white tail up (the underside of a deer’s tail is white, hence the original of its name), and will snort-wheeze which is done by forcefully exhaling pressurized air through their mouth, to signal to predators that pursuit is futile. Because animals have no verbal language, they communicate using nonverbal signals, and in this case, it happens even across species.

When humans are presented with fearful situations, they also tend to freeze. Like in animals, movement attracts attention and so to become a less obvious target to attack, the body becomes motionless. Survivors of the Columbine shooting in 1999 played dead so as to be overlooked by the shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold despite being in plain view. Some of the survivors were just a few steps away from the shooters. Freezing is an evolutionary strategy that reduces the chances that predator will identify them and switches off their attack response. In everyday life we see the freeze response when people are caught in the act of theft, when caught lying, or when hiding something. Is it an accident that police officers yell “Stop right, there” or “Freeze scumbag” when they’ve got a suspect in their sights? Screaming this might even yield a momentary freeze response if done loud enough. That is until the suspects get a chance to see who is it that uttered the command, and in which direction they should run. Shoplifters have been identified by overhead surveillance, among other body language, by the way they seem to reduce their profile, hunch over and reduce their arm movements. This is the art of “hiding in plain view” and is no different from what anyone else does when they want to get by unnoticed. I know my son is up to no good when things go particularly quiet in the house. More often then not I’m right!

People will habitually freeze when they are scolded, children and adults alike, and sometimes reduce their breath rate especially under intense scrutiny. Stress can therefore cause shallow breathing, which is why we remind people through meditation to take deep breaths to dissipate tension. You may notice someone holding their breath or even pushing breath through their mouths, we call these sighs, and it indicates stress and hidden tension. Sometimes the cheeks are puffed out where air is slowly exhaled and other times sign are riddled throughout conversation or while busy doing other tasks. If you notice someone consistently doing this you know it’s their way of “Blowing off steam.” Be watchful of the freeze response because in context can tell you that someone is stressed and is trying to go under the radar. Be particularly conscious of freezing that happens suddenly by the presence of others as it will tell you who is the object of fear. Children that suddenly freeze when a relative comes near, is telling you that they feel uncomfortable around them, and this should worry you. A wife that clams up when her husband is around, but is otherwise bubbly and personable, might be saying that she fears his reprimand because she has upset him, or might even fear upsetting him by making a social blunder. When it comes to fear-freezing, it is the sudden change from fluid to freeze that tells us what has caused it.

Displacement Behaviours Protect Us In Public

Stroking an object or object caress (context specific) can be a way to sooth a person when in public.  In a courtship setting, an object caress spells interest.

Stroking an object or “object caress” (context specific) can be a way to sooth a person when in public. In a courtship setting, an object caress spells interest.

Immediately upon leaving our homes, the place where we feel most comfortable, we begin to exhibit what is called “displacement behaviour”. Displacement behaviour is a coping mechanism that helps protect us emotionally from the outside world. The citizens of New York and other busy cities make for classic examples as they work their way through the city streets expressionless. The rest of the world sees these people as rude, despondent, miserable or unhappy but in actual fact it is completely normal and even constructive. Our public body language shifts subtly the moment we leave the door. Our faces show less emotion, it becomes more ‘pan faced’ as we if hiding our thoughts and inner feelings from others. City slickers immediately identify country folk. They make eye contact with strangers more often, and might even issue smiles, and nods at others, that is if they aren’t completely overtaken by fear and distraction. Making contact with others is normal for country folk. They come from an area where they know most of the inhabitants and therefore don’t fear public social interactions. Displacement behaviour is a stone-age protective mechanism. In our evolutionary past, had we encountered a group of strangers or a “city” of strangers, it would be in our best interest to internalize our fears and emotions so as not to betray our position. Our position is naturally fearful due in large part to being vastly outnumbered by what could be a potentially violent clan. We also wouldn’t want others to know that we carried valuable trade items, or were weak or scared. Therefore, our faces show a default position; no emotion.

Burying yourself in a book or listening to music through headphones are two great ways to retreat from the public eye so as to go unnoticed.

Burying yourself in a book or listening to music through headphones are two great ways to retreat from the public eye so as to go unnoticed.

Displacement behaviours also show that we aren’t interested in interacting with others. You can test this for yourself by approaching people on the street looking for directions, for example. When you approach them it will take a second for them to snap out of their trance, if at all, before they notice that you are talking to them. They might even ask you to repeat what you have said because their mind had been “switched off”. Sometimes they even refuse to snap out of the trance at all and simply shake their head in a “no” type fashion from side to side, before continuing. We know people are in this type of trance because their body language become more self-focused. We pull our arms and legs inward, our face will become defocused, seemingly looking through people, and our body motions will become more minimal so as to avoid drawing attention to us. We may even become completely immobile and take on protective postures.

Nail biting is an oral fixation that replaces thumb sucking and allows the body to burn off nervous energy.

Nail biting is an oral fixation that replaces thumb sucking and allows the body to burn off nervous energy.

Another version of displacement behaviour happens when our minds are preoccupied with an emotion. When our home life begins to bother us when at work, our faces become emotionless as our minds drift to this more immanent problem. Our bodies display this detachment in various ways. For example, we begin to remove imaginary lint, play with a watch or pen, look away or become distracted, repetitive tapping of the fingers or foot, avoiding eye contact, rubbing the hands together, pinching an eyelid, smoothing clothing, rotating a wedding ring, nail-biting, or sucking a finger or pen. These all indicate a hidden thought linked to anxiety. The word displacement, in this fashion indicates that one is trying to avoid the task or issue at hand, and is instead, busy themselves with an activity that is much less taxing. Another form of displacement behaviours include sitting slumped over, with a glazed look endlessly staring at the floor or a spot on the wall.

Sometimes displacement behaviours are used to avoid conflict with others and those taking part would rather not be in the situation. To avoid conflict, they appear busy and preoccupied by doing other things. Displacement behaviours can also include gum chewing or nail biting, grooming, tapping, head scratching or playing with jewelry. It includes any behaviour that is out of place and serves the purpose of removing one’s self from the situation or topic at hand. We all understand when someone tries to “change the subject”, this is the same thing, only it is accomplished silently.

Cues To Indicate Defense

She protects her mid-section with a fig leaf posture.

She protects her mid-section with a fig leaf posture.

When children get scolded by parents they adopt very specific postures. They will bow their head, avoid eye contact by looking up or to the side, and will hunch over making their bodies seem even smaller. Reducing body size is a mechanism that turns off the aggression emotion in the mind of a potential aggressor. As adults, we will adopt similar postures in addition to covering those areas we feel are most likely to be attacked or are the most vulnerable. Our heads will come back and away if aggression is strong, effectively putting distance between us and our attacker. We may also drop our chins to protect us from a blow that might knock us out cold.

Fear or uncertainty which roughly falls into a defensive strategy was covered previously and happens by crossing one ankle around the other. A variation on this is a clenched fist or tightly gripping the arms of a chair which can indicate aggression and restraint. If we feel that an attack is imminent our bodies may become tense or “wired” in effort to become ready to withstand an attack, or mount a counter attack if necessary. We may also collapse downward to cover our throats if we think a swing is nearing and when an attack commences, we cover our face and cower. If we think we can win or when escape is impossible, we draw our fists up and usually swing randomly. Our knees will also come together to protect our groin and our arms brought inward to the center of our body to protect other vital areas. The eyes might also be flicked from side to side in effort to locate possible escape routes.

Head Lowered Judgment

Head down means judgement.

Head down means judgement.

The head down shows a judgment or negative internal emotion. In fact, my son who is just nine months old, will pull his chin in and put his head down so that I can’t see his eyes when I instruct him not to touch the buttons on my desktop computer tower. He also smirks when he doesn’t want to internalize and obey me. Next, he raises his left arm (usually) to the back of his neck and either (short) grabs his ear or the hair at the side of his head, or reaches all the way and scratches the back of his neck showing restraint. I say short-grab because the real cue is the grab the back of the neck, but his arms, being a baby are short and inflexible. Scratching the back of the neck is like “holding yourself back” by the scruff of the neck. This cue cluster has been important for my wife and I as we ascertain what level of obedience we should expect based on whether or not he has actually internalized our instructions.

As with any head motion it is important to examine the adjoining clusters of body language to determine it’s true origins. For example, adding arm crossed to head down would signify more prominently that there was negativity present. Bending the head down, but looking up, can easily be confused with a lowered head yet means something totally different. The bent head means agreement, confirmation, or even shame.

The Meaning Behind Arm Crossing

Depending on the context, arm crossing might mean someone is physically cold - or emotionally cold.

Depending on the context, arm crossing might mean someone is physically cold – or emotionally cold.

Arms in the non-verbal world are shields. Folding the arms across the body is like cutting off access to our core that houses our vital organs, our heart and lungs. Just like putting up a shield, the arms protect us, not only from physical attack which can elicit closed body language, but it also protects us from unwanted outside views which we do not agree with. Therefore, having the arms across the chest can mean that either a physical threat or emotional threat is present. Arms crossed, in meeting or conversation means that the person is defensive, negative, uncertain and insecure and naturally, what is being asked of them will be met with disagreement.

An abbreviated arm cross where the hand seems to perform a necessary task.  In reality, this person feels uncomfortable and is shielding themselves.

An abbreviated arm cross where the hand seems to perform a necessary task. In reality, this person feels uncomfortable and is shielding themselves.

Arm crossing happens much more frequently in public than anywhere else. We especially see it in elevators, when exposed to a large group that makes us uncomfortable or when pitched a bad deal from a door-to-door salesman. When in public, arm crossing is due to the stress of being in a novel environment rather than due to holding negative thoughts per se. Women who are unreceptive to a pick-up at a bar or club will also be found holding this posture so as to maintain their personal space and thwart sexual advances.

As you read body language, you will eventually come across someone that tries to convince you that their closed language is a function of comfort, as in it just feels right, rather than as a tell to some underlying stress. However, arm crossing is one of the gestures that proves the body language rule rather than disproves it. The research makes it clear though, that we adopt positions because there is an underlying emotion attached to it and that this is the reason which makes the position comfortable and rather than the other way around. Body language feels right when we express underlying feelings because it provides us with a release. Conversely, if we wish to avoid closed body postures, or any bad postures for that matter, we must first attack and cure the root source of the emotion and then open posture will come naturally.

Arm crossing takes up various forms too besides the recognizable full arm cross. The more evident and strong the arm crossing, the more seeded the action is in the mind of the person executing it. As body language senders we should always try to hold opened and honest body language as a default condition as it will yield the best results under most circumstances.

Here are some examples:

______________________________________________________________________________________________

BodyLanguageProjectCom - Body Raising Or Elevation 3

A hidden arm cross showing disagreement and withdrawal.

A masked arm cross.

A masked arm cross.

[ONE] Resting one arm straight out onto the table to the front and placing the opposite hand on the wrist or forearm of the other [images show other variations of this posture].

______________________________________________________________________________________________

The coffee cup barrier - even drinks can fudge as a shield.  To look open with a drink, simply drop the drink to your side or set it down to leave your body open.

The coffee cup barrier – even drinks can fudge as a shield. To appear open, simply drop the drink to your side or set it down.

[TWO] Holding a drink in one hand with the arm perpendicular to the body (parallel to the table) with or without applying weight to the arm [image shows other variation of this posture].

______________________________________________________________________________________________

The 'figure four leg' lock - note the leg forms the 4 shape with hands locking it in.

The ‘figure four leg’ lock – note the leg forms the 4 shape with hands locking it in.

Figure four leg lock.

Figure four leg lock.

[THREE] Crossing one leg over the knee of the other and holding the ankle to lock it in.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

A childhood throwback - making us feel held and protected.

A childhood throwback – making us feel held and protected.

It looks like the conversation is going well, but the arms are being gripped showing negative thoughts.

It looks like the conversation is going well, but the arms are being gripped showing negative thoughts.

[FOUR] Full self embrace where the arms are unlocked.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

A partial arm cross.

A partial arm cross.

BodyLanguageProjectCom - Incomplete Arm Crossing Or Incomplete Crossed Arms 3

Replicating Mom holding our arm and protecting us.

BodyLanguageProjectCom - Incomplete Arm Crossing Or Incomplete Crossed Arms 1

Another version of an arm cross for defense.

BodyLanguageProjectCom - Crossing 3

Cutting off ventral access is a closed body position.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[FIVE] The opposite hand reaches over the body to grab the elbow or shoulder of the opposite arm.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Covert insecurity.

Covert insecurity.

BodyLanguageProjectCom - Incomplete Arm Crossing Or Incomplete Crossed Arms 4

It reminds us of Mom keeping us safe.

[SIX] Subtle arm crossing where the hand grabs the wrist of the opposite side.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

The arm crosses and seems to serve a supportive role.

The arm crosses and seems to serve a supportive role.

[SEVEN] The arm crosses and seems to serve a supportive role.

 

 

 

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Hand seems to alleviate an itch.

Hand seems to alleviate an itch.

[EIGHT] Hand seems to alleviate an itch.

 

 

 

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Good things are not on the horizon.

Good things are not on the horizon.

While most closed body language means that a negative attitude is present, context permitting, there exist varying degrees. For example, full arm crossing accompanied by expressionless faces, a tense, rigid, or hostile posture with limbs that appear frozen runs the gambit of rejection. Tentative closed body language where only some blocking is happening will show a semi-relaxed body language, possible boredom, a neutral face and moderate movement of the arms and hands. In the first case, where closed language is extreme, getting any kind of agreement is unlikely. The second set of postures says that there’s a possibility of forming an agreement. So rather than depicting “no”, some closed body language says “Maybe” or “I’ll think about it.”

The head titled at 45 degrees says that there's a chance to close this deal.

The head titled at 45 degrees says that there’s a chance to close this deal.

Opened and closed body language as we have seen is a matter of degree. Language that has no closed body positions says “yes” some closed means “maybe” and a lot means “no.” This is highly useful especially if you wish to sway a target. Men who wish to proposition women can read between the lines. If they see a half arm cross where one arm holds the elbow of the other, then he may still have a shot as she could just be timid. In this case, she is telling you that she is uneasy with your approach but might accept your proposal if you can present a better pitch. Because her mind isn’t completely made up it would be worthwhile to continue. But if she has a hostile expression, with arms tightly folded across her chest, with her head cocked to the side she probably isn’t willing to hear your pitch, so it would be a waste of time to continue. Reading negative body language can help us read employers as we look for pay raise, better deals on a watch or jewelry, getting permission from those in authority and generally gaining access to resources we ordinarily wouldn’t.

Be careful with the pressure you apply. You may be able to get a better deal from a used car salesmen, but when dealing with employees, an employer or a client, it’s probably best to keep body language open and inviting.

Please Log In


Username
Create an Account!
Password
Forgot Password? (close)

Get Free Content


Username
Email
Password
Confirm Password
Want to Login? (close)

Forgot Password? Resend


Username or Email
(close)