How to Tell If Someone Is Nervous

Learn how to tell if someone is nervous in this body language video from Howcast.

Transcript

Determining whether or not somebody's nervous or anxious is pretty easy, because people have a hard time hiding it. So let me explain. There's essentially usually two responses to anxiety non-verbally. So there's either, you know, you're going to get into a whole flight and fight response. So basically what it is is either people move around a lot, or they're stoic and still as all hell. All right. So they either move around a ton or don't move at all. So it's like the guy who's really anxious on a first date sits really, really carefully and doesn't move. Or fidgets and moves their arms or moves their legs or taps something.

It's one of the things we tend to do. So what you're going to look for is, to determine whether or not somebody's nervous, the first thing is essentially fidgety sort of behavior. All right. So tapping or some sort of constant movement in something. All right. Now some people have bad habits. Some people just tend to fidget a lot or move a lot, so it may not be an indication of anxiety for them. So you'll tend to, like, so if you sit down on a date for example, you sit down on a date, and all of a sudden, the biggest non-verbal indication of anxiety on date in men is the rubbing of the thighs.

I don't know why they do it, but they do it. I do it. I've caught myself doing it. They basically take two palms on your thighs, and they rub them. And it's like essentially trying to get, you know, sweat off your hands or whatever. So that's reliable. Another thing you're looking for is what's called pacifying gestures or soothing gestures. Essentially what people do when they're anxious is they rub themselves to calm themselves down. So it's similar to, like, in board room meetings you see people really confident, but when they talk about a certain area that they're not confident about, you'll see them slowly rub their fingers together.

All right. Or like women will play with the back of their neck, rub the back of the neck, or rub their hands in a certain way. It's basically we're anxious, so we try to soothe ourselves by calming ourselves down. Think of, like, a baby crying, and the mother kind of slowly tickles the baby or, you know, caresses them in a certain way to calm them or soothe them. We do that to ourselves. It's a self-soothing mechanism. It's very, very interesting. So I look for ways of people pacifying themselves. And it's cool because if you can spot people in your day-to-day interactions that are anxious, and somehow you can help them with that anxiety, it's immediate rapport.

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