If you have recently noticed that someone was rubbing their hands together and you’re not sure why then this post will try to help you to figure that out.

So, what does it mean when someone rubs their hands together? It can mean that they are preparing to make some kind of a deal, that they are nervous or it could simply mean that they are cold.

When trying to figure out why someone might be rubbing their hands together it’s important to consider what their other body language signals are saying.

Reasons why someone might rub their hands together

There are a number of reasons that someone might rub their hands together and their other body language signals will give you a number of clues.

Below, I will mention a number of reasons that someone might rub their hands together along with the body language signals to look for.

Ready for a deal

One reason that someone might begin to rub their hands together is that they’re about to make a deal on something.

If you’re about to make a deal with someone and they begin to rub their hands together then it would signal that they are confident about the deal.

If this is the case, then you should expect to see other signs of confidence in their body language.

You may notice that their pupils dilate slightly since the excitement can actually cause the pupils to dilate (and if they begin to become unsure about the deal then the pupils may begin to constrict). They would also be likely to maintain strong eye contact.

You may notice that they also sit with their legs stretched out with their hands in their pockets. They may also sit with their feet spread apart and not tight together.

They would likely stand in a confident position such as with their hands on their hips or may have their hands in their pockets but with their thumbs out. They would also likely be stood in an upright position with relaxed shoulders.

If you notice that these body language gestures turn into more closed off gestures then it would suggest that their feelings towards the deal have changed.

To calm ourselves

One reason that someone might rub their hands together is that they are trying to calm themselves.

By rubbing our hands together it can help to soothe our nerves and cause a reduction in stress.

There are a number of ways that people might rub their hands together when they are stressed. They might rub their palms, they might have their fingers interlaced and rub them up and down or they might have a closed fist that they massage with the other hand.

If this is why they are rubbing their hands together then it is likely that they will show a number of other signals with their body language that would signal that they are becoming anxious.

They might stand with their arms crossed and might rub their arms up and down or they might grip their upper arms.

They might be repeatedly covering or putting things like pens into their mouth to signal that they don’t want to say something.

They might stand with their hands in their pockets and their heads dropped down between their shoulders.

Additionally, they could be standing with their legs crossed or sitting with their ankles crossed and they would likely have constricted pupils and would struggle to maintain eye contact.

You may also notice that they have their feet pointing towards the exit and have their lower bodies leaning in that direction with their upper bodies facing that way. They would also likely be glancing in the direction of the exit often.

They disagree with what’s being said

If they have their fingers interlocked with the thumbs down then it would suggest that they disagree with what’s being said.

If that is the case then they would likely have entered that position right after you said something that they might disagree with.

They would also likely have tightened their lips slightly and may have momentarily squinted. They may also begin to rub their arms, neck, legs or face.

They’re cold

It could just be that it’s cold outside and that they are rubbing their hands together because they want to warm up.

If it is cold outside then you should avoid making assumptions other than that they are cold if they start to rub their hands together and you should look at their other body language signals instead.

Consider when they did

It would be helpful to consider when they started to rub their hands together.

If they started to rub their hands together after you said something that they might find disagreeable then it would suggest that they didn’t like what they heard. In this case, it would be helpful to address what you said if you want to make them more open to you.

If they started to rub their hands together after you said something that would suggest that they might be about to get something that they want then that would suggest that they did it due to the anticipation of it.

Look at other body language signals that they are showing

As mentioned already, when you’re trying to figure out what a body language signal might mean it’s important to consider what their other body language signals might be suggesting.

This means that you should look at the face and observe their expressions. A clenched jaw, combined with tight lips, squinting and constricted pupils which would suggest negative emotions. Or they might be showing you genuine smiles where they squint beside the eyes and have dilated pupils with their palms facing you which would be positive.

You should consider how their vocal tone changes throughout the conversation. If it goes deeper then it would suggest that they are becoming more confident. But, if it suddenly goes high pitched, then it would suggest some kind of stress.

You should look at their feet and see if they are facing the exit or if one of them are tapping. The feet are actually a good indicator of someone’s mood since people rarely think to control them.

Think about what their normal behavior looks like

When trying to figure out how a person might be feeling in a particular moment based on their body language it would be helpful to know what their normal behavior looks like.

If their body language normally looks closed off or if they have a habit of rubbing their hands, face, arms, legs or neck then it would mean that suddenly rubbing the hands wouldn’t be a strong indicator that their mood has changed.

However, if they rarely do rubbing behaviors then it would suggest that rubbing their hands means that their mood has changed and you should consider what other aspects of their body language have changed as well.

Consider the location

It would also help to consider the location that it happened in.

Obviously, if you were at a dealership and the salesman rubbed his hands together then it would suggest that he was anticipating making a deal.

If it was in a social situation then it would be more likely that they did it because they were either cold or because they were anxious.

Related

What does it mean when someone rubs their thumb with their finger? This would often suggest that they are feeling anxious. by rubbing the thumb with the finger it soothes the nerves and makes them feel calmer.

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.

Author

I created and currently manage Body Language Central, one of the premier sources for body language-related knowledge. Body language plays a key role in our daily lives. I hope that my website can help condense the wide amount of body language information available and allow you to make full use of it in your daily life. You can read more about me and my website here.