I was attending a seminar recently and the speaker started to talk about body language.  Ok … let me guess …. yes, she did it.  She brought up the myth of the “defensive folded arms.” This myth has been around for eons.  It is one of those things that you cannot seem to get away from.

Folding your arms across your body is defensive, not open.

Is that so?  No.  It is not so.

Studies have suggested that the entire context of the “folded arms” needs to be taken into consideration.  People fold their arms for various reasons.  Could it be defensive?  Could it be a physical barrier?  Yes, but not always.  So, enough already.

The one-dimensional view of posture is just that, one-dimensional. If anything, holding this view means you are not open and have not explored recent thought about body language. 

If I am talking to someone I know well and they are slouching in a chair, does this mean that they are not paying attention or are uncaring about what I am saying? No.  It could mean they are tired.  Someone could be sitting up straight in the chair and staring right at you but it is a pose. It is pretend.  They are acutely aware of the old-school idea regarding body language and are using it to their advantage, they are not paying attention though.  Granted, if you are in the company of people that don’t really know you and they are talking to you seriously or in a business situation, slouching may not be the best thing you can do. But with folding your arms – how many of us have been thoroughly and thoughtfully engaged in the conversation that we were having and all the while had our arms crossed over our bodies?  I bet a number of us.

The best thing is – make sure that you don’t fall back on “traditional” thought that may be outdated and be smarter about how you look at situations.  Taking the whole context into consideration instead of just taking ONE aspect and drawing the wrong conclusions may be the better option.

And don’t get me started on the “it just takes 21 days to form a new habit,” idea. Oh boy.

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