clenched fist meaning in body language

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Could signify Unyieldingness

The first time i noticed myself clenching my fist was when i was visualizing myself fighting with someone. Later on i found myself doing that move in the gym whenever i was about to lift a heavy weight.

So what exactly does that gesture mean and why does it appear in situations that might seem different or unrelated?

The first meaning of that gesture is that it signifies unyieldingness.

If you were in a situation where you decided that you are not going to yield no matter what happens then you might take this gesture. However this gesture seems to be more connected to situations where a physical effort of some sort is required.

So during a negotiation it's less likely to see that gesture but if you were about to go for a fight with someone or if you were about to lift a heavy weight then you might find yourself doing it.

Empowering yourself

This gesture can also be taken when you feel like empowering yourself. When i talked about body language gestures earlier i said that those gestures can help change our emotional states.

If for example you took the body language gestures of confidence then after sometime you might actually feel confident. See How can i use body language to change my mood.

In other words you might clench your first to empower yourself or to make yourself feel stronger in the face of an upcoming challenge that you are about to face.

Firmness and strength

Clenching the fist is a sign that can also communicate firmness and strength. If you were feeling weak, unsure of yourself or unable to take a challenge then you are very less likely to make that gesture.

This gesture is more connected to a challenging spirit or a challenging state. You might have noticed that some politicians clench their fists while talking about a certain issue. See the body language of confidence

A politician could for example be giving promises about some improvements that he is going to make. Clenching the fist while giving those promises indicates firmness, a strong will, a strong desire to change things and a certain level of confidence .

Connection to aggression

Clenching the fist is also a body language sign that is connected to aggression. Aggression here could be as simple as the intention to get things done no matter what happens. It's more of an aggression that is connected to a strong will.

If a person clenched his fist before a physical fight however then this could indicate a type of physical aggression that shows that this person is ready to step into a fight. If someone did that while talking to you in a firm way then know that there is a possibility that he might want to start a fight with you. It would be a good idea to get yourself prepared if you saw someone clenching his fist.

Anger build up

Yesterday i was waiting in a long queue and i felt that the employee handling registration is not doing her job right. I was trying to control myself not to talk to her aggressively as my turn was approaching.

I noticed my fists becoming clenched during that situation. So this gesture can also indicate the build up of anger. And yes i controlled myself :)

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