Sitting with legs crossed is a sitting posture accepted across the globe. In Asian countries, especially in India, if a woman sits with her legs crossed in front of men, elderly people or even their bosses, she would be seen as arrogant and haughty in nature. But, in the West, a respectable woman is supposed to sit with her legs crossed, more so when she is wearing a knee-length dress.
Sitting with the legs crossed indicates a rather reserved nature of a person. If one sits with legs crossed and hands folded across the chest at a party or any other gathering, it may indicate that he/she isn’t keen to interact with others or have fun. However, if an intimate friend approaches the person, he/she would immediately change the posture and step forward to exchange pleasantries.
As per the signs of the body language, standing or sitting with arms or legs crossed indicates lack of interest or mentally shutting out the world. It could even be a defensive act and may also indicate restlessness, stress, anxiety and shyness. A person may adopt this posture if he/she is in a position of strong denial or when they are unusually stressed.
Adopting this posture while in a conversation indicates that he/she is uninterested, wishes to repudiate or even end the conversation. A sense of insecurity caused by strange circumstances or anxiety could make someone sit with legs crossed. Women tend to sit so during chilly weather or when they feel the urge to use the washroom. It would be senseless to accuse a woman of adopting a defensive posture solely on the basis of traditional beliefs.
However, crossed legs and folded arms may be seen as a defensive act or rebuff if she is present in a free and relaxed environment. The position of crossed legs has two variations. In the standard leg cross position, one leg, usually the dominant one, is neatly placed over the other. The figure 4 leg cross is a dominant and authoritative posture. The body language experts say that it is the most common sitting position used by the American males. Nierenberg and Calero note that that an American could be easily distinguished from a group of white men just by observing their sitting posture. The figure 4 position, which is hugely popular among the Americans, is however considered highly inappropriate by other communities.
Nierenberg and Calero, in another interesting observation, note that in a compromise meeting, both the parties would be sitting with crossed legs and arms folded in the beginning. However, their posture would change as soon as they reach an amicable settlement. They would open their knees and slightly bend forward which indicate that they have thawed and are ready to accept the truce.
For the American men, the figure 4 leg cross may be a comfortable position rather than showing off any signs of superiority. However, Allen Peace observes that if a European adopts this posture, it may indicate his desire to oppose, compete or argue. To support his observation, Peace even describes an experience he had in New Zealand.
The workers and officials at a company assembled to discuss about a complex labour issue. The leader of the labourers, who is known for his arrogant ways, was on the dais, vehemently criticizing the management and officials at the company. Most of the officials, having anticipated such a backlash, were seen sitting with crossed legs as if in a defensive position. Meanwhile, the workers were keen to listen to their leader’s words and were often gesturing in compliance with him. In the second part of his speech, the leader had proposed creative measures to ease tension between the management and the workers. At this stage, Allen Peace observed that most of the managers who had initially adopted a defensive crossed leg position had changed to figure 4 posture. Later, in an interview, most managers who were present there told Peace that they were considering the labour leader’s words and analyzing its implications, in their minds. A few managers who didn’t change to the figure 4 position was either suffering from arthritis or obesity.
In the figure 4 leg cross position, if a person holds the limb between the knuckle and the knee of the dominant leg, it clearly shows heightened level of denial, abnegation and disavowal.
If a woman constantly moves the feet of her dominant leg which is on the top, she must be incredibly bored and impatient. Such a posture could be commonly observed in women while they wait in the theater for the movie to begin or impatiently wishing for a boring speech to be over.
Book: Manassu Vayikkan Sareerabhasha
Author: PKA Rasheed
Publisher: Manorama Books