It’s not always easy to tell if somebody is upset with you.
This is especially true of introverts and more reserved people who tend to push down and hide their difficult emotions.
So how can you tell?
Here’s a look at the subtle but telltale signs that a person is boiling inside.
If you see a lot of these signs happening then there’s a high chance this person is secretly angry at you.
1) Closed-off body language
Watch for closed-off body language including avoiding eye contact, turning their body from you and crossing their arms.
Closed-off body language is a reliable indicator that all is not well and that this person is upset in some way.
If their body language becomes noticeably more closed-off when you’re around then it’s a problem they have with you – even if they won’t say it.
2) Downcast microexpressions
Microexpressions are subtle facial expressions that show how somebody really feels.
Interrogators and authorities are trained in detecting them because these expressions are what people first show as their genuine response, often immediately covered up by their “official” or chosen response.
Somebody who is annoyed or angry with you will often have subtle frowns, narrowed eyes and other microexpressions that show they are angry at you, even if they smile immediately after these first reactions.
Here’s a look at some common microexpressions:
3) Muscle tension and subtle signs of tension
This is related to microexpressions but applies for the whole body.
It may be tension around the jaws and clenched neck muscles or it could be balled-up fists and hunched, tight shoulders.
If you notice that the muscle tension and signs of body tension noticeably worsen when you’re around, there’s something about their thoughts or feelings towards you that makes them tense or angry.
4) Restless, fidgeting behavior and tics
This person has many nervous tics and becomes noticeably restless and uncomfortable when you are around.
They shift on their feet, rub their hands, crack their knuckles, roll their neck and generally show that they’re not comfortable around you.
No matter how pleasant their words are, their underlying behavior shows that they are not OK with you for some reason.
5) Moving physically away from where you are
It may seem overly elementary to point out, but this is something many people miss precisely because it’s so obvious.
When somebody is upset at you, watch how they position their body in terms of distance.
If they’re upset or uncomfortable around you, they will move further away if you try to get close and shift themselves away from you.
6) Non-appreciative and unresponsive to your affection
When you do try to show affection and appreciation for this person, they move away and shrink back.
It’s as if they are allergic to your touch or your kind words.
They are stone-faced and uncomfortable, almost horrified by the love or kindness you’re showing them. They’re clearly angry at you but trying to hide it.
7) Terse, minimal responsiveness
When you do talk to this person, they barely respond or talk tersely and as if it’s being forcefully squeezed out of them. They don’t want to talk to you, and they’re making it clear.
It’s like they’re an accordion that’s barely working and there’s nothing more to squeeze out. There’s a good chance this is anger talking.
8) Lack of laughter or appreciating what you say
When you make a joke or say something kind or helpful, this person just shrugs.
They seem dismissive of what you’re saying in general and have a blank expression when you do make a joke.
Even if it’s funny, they’re just not very interested. In many cases, this is suppressed anger talking.
9) Sarcastic or passive tone of voice
When they do speak, they are sarcastic and quite passive-sounding.
They have the tone of “I could take it or leave it.”
They are acting over-casual if anything, subtly undercutting what you say and showing no real interest.
They are upset at you and trying to vent it low-key through sarcasm and passivity.
10) Avoiding certain topics and subjects
When certain subjects come up, this person tenses up and becomes hostile.
They may hide it behind a bright smile or a shrug, but if you watch closely you’ll see that they’re not OK.
Whenever this subject comes up, they clearly react by being uncomfortable and immediately moving onto a different subject.
11) Frequent cancellation and changing of plans
They may have once been respectful and punctual, but that’s no longer the case.
You’re clearly no longer a priority for them and they let you know it in a thousand small ways.
This is a big one because they are often canceling and changing their plans and leaving you out of them.
12) Intentional procrastination and delays
They intentionally procrastinate and delay, not showing up when they said they would and dragging their feet on things you work on together.
This may just seem like the person being disorganized or having too much on their plate, but if it’s something you never expected from them, it can be submerged anger.
In some cases, they themselves may not even be fully aware of their anger, and it can be subconscious.
But one way or another, they are angry and they are taking it out by making every plan they make with you as inconvenient and delayed as possible.
13) Putting almost no effort into shared tasks
When you do have shared tasks, they also drag their feet and put no oomph into it.
They aren’t into it. Are they just lazy?
There could be an element of that, but in many cases they’re just upset at you and don’t want to work with you.
But instead of being open about that, they’re just sabotaging any shared endeavors you’re working on.
14) Tearing you down by comparing you to others
Comparisons to others are another way that some people express their low-key anger.
They do this under the guise of simply understanding things or analyzing you.
But in the process, they subtly tear you down and make you feel unworthy.
This is a passive-aggressive way of getting in hits against you and making you feel like trash.
15) Overly critical of you and finding fault with small things
They seem to find fault with everything you do.
Even if they point it out in a reasonable way, it’s like this person is just dedicating their time to deconstructing you.
They’ve become your own personal critic. In many cases, this is their own sublimated anger against you, coming out in the form of them being overly critical.
16) Vague and passive-aggressive social media posts
Cryptic and angry social media posts that seem like they may be referring to you are another thing to look out for.
It may be impossible to know for sure, but if this person seems to be hinting at being upset with you in social media posts, it might not just be in your imagination.
It may be them venting their frustration online in a way where they can still always claim plausible deniability.
If somebody is displaying many of the signs above, they’re harboring anger at you and trying to hide it.
They owe it to you to come clean about how they feel and be direct about what’s going on.
Doing your best to get them to open up and express what’s going on is the next step in trying to resolve and talk through whatever is going on.
Lost Your Sense of Purpose?
In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.
Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.
Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.
With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.
Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.