kprc logo

‘Are crossed arms rude?’ Body language expert weighs in on trending topic

How one gesture might have two different meanings

Are crossed arms rude? Houston Life hosts, Derrick Shore and Courtney Zavala bring in body language expert Jan Hargrave to weigh in on a recent Reader's Digest article.

HOUSTON – The Houston Life team recently came across a Reader’s Digest article about body language and the hidden messages you could be sending.

So, we brought in friend of the show and body language expert, Jan Hargrave to weigh in on a few of the gestures featured in the article. She shares tips on what you should and shouldn’t do during a conversation.


During negotiations it typically signifies a person who is attempting to “block out” what he/she is hearing.  It signals a person who is distant, insecure, defensive or anxious. But, Hargrave says that crossed arms do have their pluses too.

  • It’s also a comforting (self-soothing pose) pose that can help you to concentrate and stick to a difficult task.
  • When solving hard questions or difficult math problems, cross your arms across your body.
  • Crossing your arms makes you utilize both your left and right brain, thus creating a higher cognitive functioning ability in yourself.


If you want someone to know that you are listening to them, make direct eye contact.

  • Too much eye contact (more than 80%) makes the other person feel uncomfortable.
  • Too little eye contact (less than 40%) can signal deceit and disinterest.
  • The magic number for eye contact is 60% - 70% of the time.
  • Give them eye contact, then slightly glance away, then back to eye contact.
  • Business gaze is: eye-eye-center of forehead.
  • Social gaze is: eye-eye-mouth.
  • Romantic gaze is: eye-eye-chest.


The “Superman Pose” is communicating power, confidence and aggressiveness. It’s territorial because you are seemingly taking up more space. 

  • It can appear that you are threatening others with your “pointed elbows.”
  • Even propping one hand on your hip can give an intimidating vibe.
  • Use this gesture if you need to show dominance and authority when a situation/discussion goes astray.
  • It would be a mistake to use this gesture during a job interview.

For more information on these body language gestures, and to connect with Jan Hargrave, click here.

About the Authors:

Erin Montoya is an award-winning producer, middle child and mom of two boys.