Body Language – the need to defend when there is nothing to defend against

Step away from the coffee mug.  Put the briefcase down. Leave the cufflinks alone, and for goodness sake, there’s no need to put your hands there.  I am of course talking about the body language and tendency of many to block themselves off from the world, often subconsciously, by creating body barriers in front of them.  You know what I mean – we’ve all done it.  At parties almost everyone walks around with a glass or a bottle, even if they’re not drinking from it.  Prince Charles plays with his cufflinks when he’s uncomfortable.  And we all know someone in the office who uses their handbag like a security blanket.

This is all about creating a physical feeling of security.  People who are anxious, nervous, or shy, often hug themselves with one arm or two. Stroking your own hair mimics the comfort of a parent soothing a child.  Holding something in front of you whilst you speak to someone, or especially a group, is all about insecurity and trying to feel like a knight with a shield, ready to deflect, or hide.

People can create these barriers with props, or just with their hands and arms.  Either way, it looks very negative; even if you fold your arms because its comfortable for you, or hold a cup of coffee because you’re at work and it’s the morning (what else are you going to do!?) it can and does look overly defensive.

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