Body Language: Hands and Arms

by Svitlana Matska

We all know that our body has got its own language which is much more expressive than the words we pronounce. Our eyes, gestures and even postures reveal the truth and can tell about even those things which we desperately would like to hide away or disguise.

So let’s talk about arms and what they can tell about their “owner”. Every time while speaking or listening to somebody we pay attention on our partner’s hands. Of course we like their neat and well-tended look that conveys inner accuracy and the order of a person. What else can we catch? Here are some signs which speak about a person’s character or his emotional condition.

Start with a handshake. If it is very weak it may point to a lack of authority. But one which is too firm makes a person seem aggressive.

What message do folded arms send? That signals to others that a person isn’t interested in them or doesn’t buy into their message. Such posture creates a sense of being closed off.

Fidgeting or touching hair can reveal excess of energy, which speaks about feeling discomfort or even anxious.

Let’s go on. When somebody is standing with his hands on his hips that reveals his readiness to act or may signal about his aggression. More relaxed posture with arms crossed on chest points to defensiveness.

Have you ever caught yourself on walking with hands in pockets (especially with shoulders hunched down)? How were you feeling? Dejected? Or even depressed? That’s it.

If you see somebody rubbing hands, you may be sure he is in anticipation. At the same time tapping or drumming fingers show impatience.

Do you usually notice the way you are given something? If it is done with a palm opened that conveys sincerity and openness. And vice verse, a palm which is inverted down signals that the person has something to hide away. On the other hand, fingers which are touching slightly rubbing a nose, point to rejection or doubt.

While speaking to a person pay attention to a position he sits. Sitting with his elbows on the armrest of a chair is a position of power and conveys a strong, upright image. Usually his answer on your request is “No”. Humble defeated individuals let the arms drop inside the arms of the chair, so avoid this position if you don’t want to make such an impression.

And what about celebrities?

People who are continually exposed to others, such as politicians, TV faces and movie stars, usually don't want their audiences to detect that they are nervous or unsure of themselves. This anxiety or uncertainty is displayed in unconscious movements when one hand touches or holds on to a handbag, bracelet, watch, shirt cuff or a nearby object.

So what could be some of recommendations? Always watch yourself and your body whenever you want to make a good impression. And of course watch the movements and gesture of people around to read their hidden messages.


  1. Are you good at understanding body language?
  2. Why do you think body language is important?
  3. How conscious are you of your own body language?
  4. Do you consider yourself to be an emotional person?
  5. Do you believe body language of hands and arms is different in other countries?
  6. What are some good gestures in your culture?
  7. What are some insulting gestures in your culture?
  8. What way of greeting do you prefer: hand shaking, hugging or kissing? What does it depend on?
  9. How would you describe your handshake?
  10. Masons are believed to have a special handshake. Do you know anything about that?
  11. Can you explain anything in your “hand” language?
  12. Have you ever held your hands up? Why?
  13. Have you ever predicted somebody’s actions judging by his language of arms?
  14. Have you ever tried to speak your mind through gestures but without words? If so, were you successful?
  15. When did you last catch yourself gesticulating while speaking on the phone?
  16. When did you last rest your hands on your sides? Why?
  17. When did you last show an insulting gesture? What had happened?
  18. Have you ever thumbed up to stop a vehicle?
  19. Do you like touching people while speaking to them?
  20. Do you like people touching you while speaking?

Descriptive idea

Help a young person (using only oral instructions) to invite smb on a date using the Skype in the situation when the microphone doesn’t work.

Imagine that you are a trainer who is hired by a corporation to help their representative to hold a business meeting. Give him some instructions how to understand the partners’ feelings by their body language.

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