It can be difficult to figure out why someone might be standing there with their hands in their pockets. This post will try to help you to figure out why and to help you to understand its meaning as it happens in real-time.
So, what does it mean when someone stands with their hands in their pockets? Possible causes of someone standing with their hands on their hips are that they are simply cold, they might be feeling confident, they may be showing attraction or they might even be restraining themselves.
Since there are a number of possible reasons that someone might stand with their hands in their pockets it will be necessary for you to consider their other body language signals, their normal behavior and when they did it in order to properly understand its meaning.
Possible meanings of someone standing with their hands in their pockets
When trying to figure out why someone might have put their hands in their pockets it will also be necessary to consider other signals that they might be showing with their body language.
Below I will mention a number of possible reasons that someone might stand with their hands in their pockets along with the types of body language that you should expect to go with it.
Standing with the hands in the pockets can be a signal that someone is feeling confident. This is because it makes it harder for the person to defend themselves and it exposes their vulnerable areas. This means that they are signaling that they are not concerned about being harmed.
If they are feeling confident then they will likely be standing with their feet apart, their shoulders will be upright and not slouched and might even be leaning back a little to make the chest look bigger, their voice might sound deeper and they might extend their neck slightly to look taller.
It would be especially likely that they are doing it to exude confidence if they are showing their thumbs. However, it would also have a slightly arrogant undertone to it.
If it involves a man that’s speaking to a woman then it could be a signal that he finds her attractive. When men find a woman attractive it can cause them to stand in a way that highlights their crotch which could be what is happening.
If this is the case then he will also likely have his feet spread apart, will speak with a deeper voice, touch her more frequently, talk to her more, lean in towards her, point his feet towards her and might mirror her body language.
One reason that someone might be standing with their hands in their pockets is that they are cold. If it’s cold outside then you should avoid trying to make conclusions based on having their hands in their pockets since it would be highly likely that they’re just trying to keep their hands warm.
It might be that they are doing it because they are trying to restrain themselves. It could be that they are frustrated and they are trying to hide it or that they disagree with something that you said.
If it is due to disagreement then they will likely have gone into the position right after you said something that they disagree with. They would also likely have tight lips, perhaps some pupil constriction, and they might have momentarily squinted.
If it was due to frustration then they would likely have done it after you said something that might have annoyed them. They might also have gone red in the face, they may have tensed their jaw, they might clench the fists slightly and they would probably constrict the pupils.
To look more muscular
One reason that a man might choose to put his hands in his pockets is to appear more muscular. This is because it makes the upper arms rest against the body and gives them a bigger appearance.
The person might be putting his/her hands in their pockets because they want to avoid drawing attention to themselves.
If this is the case then they will also probably be showing other behaviors such as avoiding eye contact, slouching at the shoulders, not contributing much to any conversation, foot-tapping, pointing their feet towards the exit, leaning towards the exit and they might rub their neck, face or legs often.
Not necessarily lying
People often assume that standing with the hands in the pockets is a sign of lying but this isn’t necessarily the case.
Instead, when people lie, they will often show micro gestures that can signal feelings of discomfort. These expressions can include rubbing the legs, face, neck or arms, tucking their feet behind the legs of their chair, pupil constriction, a change in the vocal tone or momentarily squinting or looking away.
If the person likes you then the reason that they might be standing with their hands in their pockets might actually be because they are copying your behavior. When we are with people we copy their behavior because it signals that we are a part of their group and it improves social bonding.
Consider their body language
When trying to figure out someone might be standing with their hands in their pockets it’s important to consider other body language signals that they might be showing.
This means that you should consider how far the feet are apart. If the person is standing with them wide apart then it would suggest that they are feeling more confident. If they have their feet facing towards the exit then it would suggest that they are thinking about leaving especially if they’re tapping with one of their feet.
It would also be helpful to consider how the shoulders are positioned. If they are slouching forward then it would actually suggest that they are feeling nervous.
You should look to see if there is squinting in the eyes. If there is then it would suggest that they are feeling some kind of frustration especially if there is pupil constriction. If the pupils are dilated and the shoulders are back then it would suggest that they really are feeling confident.
Another thing to consider would be the smiles that they are giving. If they are giving tight-lipped smiles it would suggest that they are restraining themselves in some way.
Learn their normal behavior
When trying to figure out how someone might be feeling it’s important to consider what their normal behavior looks like.
If they normally stand with their hands in their pockets then it would suggest that they are feeling normal.
But, if they stand with their hands in their pockets and they don’t normally do that then it would suggest that they are feeling different and you should look at other body language signals that they are showing.
Think about when they did it
When you’re trying to make sense of a person’s body language it would also often be helpful to consider what happened when they assumed that position.
If they did it right after you said something then they might be feeling confident, frustrated or they might be in disagreement about what you just said and you should look at their other body language gestures.
Take into account the setting
It would also be helpful to take into account the setting that it happens in. If it’s in a social setting then they might be feeling confident or even nervous. If it’s a business setting then they may be feeling frustrated.
Think about who else is present
If you notice that they only assume that stance when certain people are present then it would suggest that they either have positive or negative feelings about that person. The other aspects of their body language should help you to decide which.
Consider your relationship with the person
It can also be helpful to consider your relationship with the person. If it’s your friend then it might just be their normal behavior and that they like to stand that way when they’re comfortable.
What does it mean if someone puts their hands in their pockets with their thumbs out? This would normally suggest that someone is feeling confident about themselves and may even have a sense of arrogance.
What does it mean when someone walks with their hands in their pockets? If someone walks with their hands in their pockets then it would suggest that they are feeling comfortable or that they are just doing it to stay warm.
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.