Think about a time when you pretended to continue an uncomfortable conversation as you moved into another room. Sure, you could still talk back and forth, but it was more difficult. Another item soon occupied your focus, which ended the exchange.
Discomfort rules your limbic brain. That limbic lizard brain inside is what moves your body to a safer room when you’re uncomfortable.
Imagine the last argument you had. You were convinced of your position. There’s no way the other person was right.
They thought the same about your argument, of course.
I’d be willing to bet at least one of you crossed your arms in front of yourself to block the very ideas being spoken.
Arms are one of our most expressive forms of communication. They’re used to build trust and rapport, as we’ll see. They’re used for defense. They’re used to communicate effectively at work.
Imagine the college professor, using her arms to focus our attention to different parts of her presentation. Lawyers use their arms to emphasize their points. Traffic cops use their arms to direct the flow around them.
We are naturally inclined to watch people’s arms — so much that illusionists and pickpockets take advantage of this to misdirect our attention.
In addition to emphasizing our speech, sudden changes in our arms also communicate our limbic reactions to our surroundings.