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What is it's meaning? I sometimes do this subconsciously and at other times deliberately and I often do that when I'm alone (at the computer desk for instance) or when I'm talking with others while being seated. I hunch over a little and while I thrust my elbow out to the side, I place my left clenched hand on the left thigh while I am seated. I also do not clench my thumb while doing this. It's always the left hand on my left thigh while I am seated.

To give you a better cultural context, I'm an East Asian Indian, but grew up in the United States. I'm 42 years old. By the way, I don't think this purely an intrapersonal issue as I do this while talking to others also. I'm asking this because I think I'm getting negative reactions to this posture as my conversational partners quickly glances at my left arm as if they are not pleased. I find this posture comfortable. So that's probably why I'm doing it, but I think people are offended by it since it generally indicates a defensive posture as @Meg below indicated in her answer. I have included a picture below of me in this posture. In the picture, you will notice that the thumb is not clenched.

enter image description here

closed as unclear what you're asking by Ælis, sphennings, DaveG, scohe001, David K Jul 25 at 15:30

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is INTRA personal, not interpersonal – DaveG Jul 25 at 14:37
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    It might be helpful to add an image of what you're describing just to avoid ambiguity. Is Meg's answer the sort of thing you're looking for (roughly, "how do people interpret this body language?")? IMO that could probably be made on topic. But if you're asking us to determine why you do it, then I agree with DaveG it's an intrapersonal question. (Or if you're asking because you get poor reactions, maybe we could suggest ways to avoid that, if you describe what that is.) Could you clarify what your goal is in asking this? – Em C Jul 25 at 15:28
  • @RedSonja Yes, I don't know why I'm doing this. I have added additional information to my question above to add some cultural context. – Raj Narayanan Jul 25 at 22:08
  • @EmC Please see my edited question above. Thanks. – Raj Narayanan Jul 25 at 22:10
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If you were speaking about someone else who assumed this posture in direct response to a social interaction, I would infer that the person was uncomfortable and non-verbally expressing a need or desire to be left alone or for more personal space. Hunching, closed hands, leaning one limb on another are examples of closed body language, which can indicate the wish to not be noticed, or a feeling of defensiveness or desire for self-protection. It may indicate a shy personality or someone who feels unsafe. It can also be caused by something as simple as feeling cold, or just a random position that the person finds comfortable or convenient, however. Body language differs from person to person, and can't generally be 'translated' with great confidence or accuracy.

A thrust-out limb, as if to block others from getting closer, can also indicate defensiveness or the wish for others to 'back up', whether physically by giving more space or socially by reducing intense or aggressive interactions.

Given that this is something that happens even when alone, and does not depend on the presence of another person or any particular feeling of discomfort, it is probably not primarily a form of body language or social signaling. More likely it is just a habit or may simply be a position you find comfortable to sit in.

  • Thank you for this answer. Please see my edited question above. It will give you more info for a better understanding of my question. Thanks. – Raj Narayanan Jul 25 at 22:11
  • Having seen the photo, I think it supports either the idea that people are concerned (probably most aren't actually offended) because they don't understand why you adopted a defensive stance towards them, or they could be confused, since closed fist can be seen as aggressive or threatening, and is at odds with the rest of your body language. I don't think you should worry a lot about this in normal casual interactions. Many people have body language that is slightly off the 'stereotypically normal', and others can usually adapt to that quite well with a little time. – Meg Jul 26 at 14:39

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