If you have recently noticed someone hiding their hands you may be wondering why and what it might mean. This post will try to help you figure that out and to help you to figure it out in real-time in the future.
So, what does it mean when someone hides their hands? It will often mean that they are nervous about something. It could be that they’re lying or that they don’t like someone. Depending on how they hide their hands it could also imply that they are feeling confident or that they are restraining themselves as well.
To understand why someone might be hiding their hands it would be important to consider other body language signals that they are showing. It would also be helpful to consider when it happened, what their normal behavior looks like and where it happened.
Why someone might hide their hands
There are a number of reasons that someone might hide their hands and each of them would likely come with other body language clues.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons that someone might hide their hands and I will mention a number of other body language signals to look for.
The reason that they are hiding their hands might be because they are lying about something or that they are not being entirely truthful.
If this is the case, then they would likely have hidden their hands when at around the time that they lied.
If you think that they might have hidden their hands due to lying you should ask them about other things and then ask them a related question again later. If they hide their hands again then it would suggest that the topic is causing them to have an emotional response.
If they are lying then there would likely be a number of other signs that they would show that would be very similar to the signs of nervousness.
Some body language clues to look for would be:
- A change from their normal body language
- Constriction of the eyes
- A change in vocal tone
- A change in their balance
- Eye rubbing and blinking more than usual
- Covering the mouth
- Feet facing the exit
- Rubbing the nose
- Rubbing the upper legs
- Moving their feet around or foot tapping
- Incongruence with their facial signals and what they’re saying (ie nodding and saying yes)
- Hiding the lips
- Faring nostrils
- Breathing deeper
The reason that they might be hiding their hands could be due to nervousness. They might do this by sitting on their hands, holding them behind their back or putting them in their pockets.
The idea here is that they don’t want to draw attention to themselves so they restrict the ability of their hands to draw attention to themselves.
If they are doing it due to being nervous then they might have done it as soon as they entered the room due to having some social anxiety.
Alternatively, they might have done it when someone else entered the room and hiding the hands would indicate that they had an emotional response to that.
If they are hiding their hands due to nervousness then they will again likely show a number of other body language signals.
Some of these body language signals might be similar to the signals of lying which is why it’s important to consider the context and if you do think that they’re lying to get them to clarify what they’re talking about so that you can observe their body language again.
Some examples of nervous body language would include:
- Rubbing their face more
- Touching their neck
- Rubbing their arms
- Rubbing the upper legs
- Facing the feet towards the exit
- A lack of eye contact
- Eye rubbing
- Blinking more
- Hiding their eyes by putting things in the way
- Lip licking
- Mouth dryness
- Tucking in the chin
- Turning the body away
- Shoulders slouching forwards
- Quivering eyelids, mouth or hands
- Locking the ankles
- Talking with a higher pitch at the ends of sentences
The reason that they are hiding their hands might even be that they are feeling confident. If this is the case they would likely be hiding their hands behind their back when standing and not clenching them tightly or rubbing them.
This is why it’s important not to consider single body language signals as fact since they can have multiple different meanings. Instead, you should make sure to consider body language in terms of clusters.
The reason that standing with the hands behind the back can imply confidence is that it causes them to show their vulnerable areas which suggest that they are not concerned about an imminent threat.
If they are feeling confident then it would be likely that they would show other signs of confident body language as follows:
- Strong eye contact
- Standing straight up
- Extending the neck
- Lack of rubbing movements of the face, neck, legs
- Feet wide apart
- Constant vocal tone
- Taking up more space
- No fidgeting with the feet
- Showing the palms
- Not crossing the legs and arms
- Controlled breathing
One reason that they might be hiding their hands is actually that they might be trying to restrain themselves.
If this is the case then they would likely be sitting on them or hiding them behind their back while also holding them more tightly.
This type of body language would be more likely to come right after something happened that might cause them to want to restrain themselves.
It could have happened right after something was said implying that they disagree with it or it could have happened after someone did something that they didn’t like.
If this is the case then they would likely show body language signs signaling restraint as follows:
- Redness of the face
- Tightening of the lips
- Constricted pupils
- Tightening of the jaw
- Clenched fists
- Frowning between the eyebrows
Depends largely on the way that they hide their hands
As mentioned already there are a number of different reasons that someone might hide their hands. However, the way that they hide their hands will likely also give you some clues as to why they did it.
If they hide them behind their back but they are clenching them tightly then it would suggest that they are restraining themselves due to frustration.
If they sit on them then it would imply nervousness. If they put them in their pockets then it could imply nervousness or even confidence depending on their other body language signals.
Think about when they did it
The timing of when they hid their hands would also likely be of a lot of use to you.
If they hid their hands right after something was said then it would suggest that they had an emotional response to what was said.
If they did it when someone entered the room then they might be scared of them, or even attracted since it could mean that they are doing it to restrain themselves from leaving.
If they did it right from the start then it could imply that something is making them nervous such as social anxiety or that it was due to something that happened earlier.
Compare it to their normal behavior
It would also be helpful to know what their normal behavior looks like.
If they have a habit of hiding their hands then if you see them do it they could be feeling perfectly fine in that moment. However, it could signal that something in the past has caused them to have that habit.
If they rarely do it then it would suggest that something recent has caused it and you should look to see what other body language signals are different.
Consider where it happened
The location that it happened in would also be something that could help you to understand why it happened.
If they started an interview like that then it would just suggest that they’re feeling nervous about the interview. If they did it half-way through the interview then it could be that a question has caused an emotional response.
If it happened in a social setting then it could be that someone is making them nervous or they might be restraining themselves.
Why you should avoid hiding the hands
If you have a habit of hiding your hands then you should consider stoping that habit.
To many people, hiding the hands is a sign of lying.
In addition, people often look at the hands to understand what you’re saying and to figure out whether or not you’re a threat.
This means that hiding your hands can make people become distrustful of you.
Why do people hide their hands? They might do it because they are nervous or that they are lying. It could also be that they are restraining themselves.
If you want to learn more about body language, a book I would recommend would be The Definitive Book of Body Language (on Amazon). It shows you how to interpret body language and understand people's true intentions.