About 25% of the time I have a conversation with people, they begin to cross their arms or legs halfway through. I know that arm crossing can be a sign of defensiveness (or they're just cold), but they often do this when we're not talking about anything controversial. Is it because I may have somehow offended them or they see me as fake/insincere (I feel I may be that way at times)?

For example, someone once told me their job title, and I asked if people in that job do XYZ, and he crossed his arms and explained that they really do ABC. I do not really see this as offending in any way, so I am looking for other possible reasons as to why people may cross their arms when I talk.


I think it's incorrect to assume that crossing arms means defensiveness. It might mean that in some situations, but people cross their arms when they are cold, or fatigued. The meaning of the gesture is subjective and it could be different for everyone. Trying to deduce someone's emotions from physical signs assumes there are universal expressions, or "fingerprints", for each emotion. This assumption is largely disputed by modern science. If you'd like to research that further, I recommend reading How Emotions Are Made by Barrett.

So, I wouldn't worry about it. Don't take arm crossing the wrong way.

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