The “offerer” in the rogatory posture wants to give you his thoughts and just doesn’t understand your point of view.

The “offerer” in the rogatory posture wants to give you his thoughts and just doesn’t understand your point of view.

Palms up is seen as honest and palm down dishonest or authoritative. In evolutionary terms, the palm display is an important gesture signifying honesty because it is a way to make evident to others that no threat or weapon is present. Being open means being honest and not hiding anything. Palm and wrist displays have even been noted to be sexual in nature and more frequently flashed by women during courtship likely because it is such a vulnerable part of the body. The wave, as a long distance greeting, probably has roots in showing that we aren’t carrying a spear, sword, or bow and arrow.

Having the hands deep in a pocket or behind the back can be a sign of aggression or passive threat, and our evolutionary history tells us that someone who is hiding something is probably not hiding a bouquet of flowers. But if they are, why take the risk! Showing open palms, facing up, or the “palm flash” is essentially what would have happened thousands of years ago when two foreign tribes met.

“Palm down displays” such as by placing hands face down on a table or standing head on and leaning with the fingertips spread to anchor the body shows emphatically that a position is held confidently. While conversing on a topic, we should therefore expect both palms up and palms down as opinions are either offered with reservation or presented with conviction. The rule of thumb is that palms down “telling”, while palms up, “offering.”

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