In the beginning of our childhood, or our early age, we started to learn the response of hiding behind a barrier to protect ourselves from what we perceived as a threat or negative situation.  For example, as children we hide behind table legs, chairs, and even our parents legs. You may have noticed children hiding behind barriers and have never really asked yourself why, but it’s usually associated with shyness.

arms crossed

As we grow older, it starts to become unacceptable to hide behind barriers when we’re place into an uncomfortable or threatening situation. As a result, our body langauge of protecting ourselves changes into the folded arms technique. There have been many times where I, and maybe you, have seen older children pouting with their arms folded across their chests.  This is the stage where the folded arms is introduced and is reinvented as we grow older.

Once we enter the teen years, our folded arms start to relax a bit. The reason we start to relax the folded arms gesture is to try to make the gesture less obvious. We begin to learn that folding arms during specific times or events is looked down upon, or viewed as, “not having a great time”.  The laid back arm cross is going to have the same meaning as the regular arms crossed gesture, as in, it will still be used to make ourselves feel safe when feeling vulnerable and threatened.

As we enter our adult years, the gesture can evolve into more creative ways to fold our arms. Many of you will notice that some people fold one arm across their mid-section, clasp their hands in front of their private area, and even hand grabbing. A classic folded arm gesture, that is easy to spot, is when someone with a jacket or suit decides to fiddle with their cuff links. They call this type, “the rich person arm cross”.

In the next couple of blogs we will talk about each specific arm barrier or arm crossing gesture in detail.

If you are a visual learner, check out the video below.

You can find me on Twitter @CaddyQuinn

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