About Finnish body language

People are constantly throwing off a storm of non-verbal signals. The same is true with Finns, although in general I would say that we are minimal and a bit stiff in our body language. I find observing people’s body language fascinating and have noticed that there are two poses in Finland which are often used differently than in Europe or US. We Finns are quite self-conscious, so these gestures are both simple and pragmatic solutions to the problem “Where should I put my hands when interacting with other people?”.

Crossing arms

This is usually a sign of hiding and negativity. The person is generally regarded as closed to conversation or in distress. In Finland, this is a popular and quite neutral pose. It is less positive than having relaxed arms on the sides of your body, but still far away from being negative. It is like a resting bitch face type thing for majority of Finns, as the belly area is a comfortable resting place for arms.

Finnish women sometimes do a one-arm cross in which one arm crosses the body to hold or touch the other, straight, arm. This is usually a sign of distress but in Finland, this is also a neutral pose.

Keeping hands in pocket

Another sign of hiding and closed to conversation. In Finland, this is a safe haven for hands you do not know what to do with and a neutral look. Thumbs on top of the pockets is a confidence gesture in Finland too, though. Finnish ladies also keep their hands in pocket more often than women in other countries. And to make this gesture even funnier, all Finnish children are taught that having your hands in pocket is rude!

pocket-arms

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