Body language experts can often understand nuanced signs of someone being nervous.
These cues give them valuable insights into a person’s emotional state. However, experts also know that it’s important to interpret them within the context of their baseline behavior and the situation they’re in.
So, it’s time to learn what things body language experts instantly notice about a nervous person.
When you’re feeling anxious, it’s like your body hits the panic button and triggers an increase in sweat production, especially on the palms. And if you’re really worked up, you might even get a shiny, glistening forehead.
It’s not because you’ve discovered a new skincare routine. It’s your body’s way of saying, “Whoa, things are heating up!”
Body language experts are trained to spot all these little signs that show when someone’s nervous.
But they also keep an eye on the following:
Imagine a time when you were about to give a presentation, meet your partner’s parents for the first time, or face a challenging job interview.
You probably felt a bit like a coiled spring, right? That’s a relatable way to think about tension in the body when someone’s anxious.
But when body language experts see this tension, they know it’s not just about a stiff back or tight shoulders.
It’s your body’s way of saying, “Hey, I’m not entirely comfortable here, and I’m ready to protect myself if I have to.”
For them, it’s a clear signal that nervousness is in the house.
Some people, when they’re in a nerve-wracking situation, do these quick little twitches or grimaces on their faces.
They crinkle their nose or twitch the corner of their mouth, but it happens so fast that you might not even catch it if you’re not paying close attention.
Well, if someone like a body language expert who knows what to look out for is looking, they’ll see these subtle twitches or grimaces, and it’s a red flag for them.
The person might be trying really hard to appear calm and collected on the outside. Still, these little facial flinches spill the beans about the emotional storm going on inside.
These fleeting facial expressions are often associated with specific emotions. For example, a barely noticeable smile suggests underlying happiness or amusement, while a quick frown could indicate sadness or displeasure.
Microexpressions reveal authentic feelings that someone is trying hard to conceal but are providing sharp observers with valuable information.
Fidgeting is yet another thing body language experts notice quickly and easily. And they will tell you that it encompasses a range of behaviors:
Finger tapping or drumming can indicate restlessness, impatience, or anxiety. Shifting one’s weight from foot to foot or repeatedly adjusting clothing might be subconscious attempts to relieve discomfort.
Fidgeting is like your body’s way of showing it’s not quite at ease.
For body language experts, all these fidgety movements are like little windows into your emotional world.
They pick up on these cues and can tell when someone’s feeling nervous or on edge. So, next time you notice someone fidgeting, you might understand what’s going on beneath the surface.
5) Shaking or trembling
When you’re nervous, you may have noticed your hands quivering, your legs feeling a bit wobbly, or even your voice cracking.
This is your body’s way of reacting to stress. It’s like a little internal alarm system.
When you’re anxious, your brain releases adrenaline, which can make your muscles twitch and shiver. Your body is saying, “Hey, something’s up, be ready!”
So, when they see those shaky hands or that wobbly voice, they know that something’s making you extremely nervous.
6) Crossing arms or legs
When people cross their arms or legs, they are creating a protective shield, even if they don’t realize it.
They’re creating a little personal bubble, a physical barrier, if you will, between you and whatever’s making you feel uneasy.
It’s like an instinctive reaction to feeling vulnerable or defensive.
Body language experts instantly pick up on this because it’s a familiar and typical response to nervousness.
As is the following:
7) Decreased gestures
While speaking, a nervous person may use fewer hand movements than usual. They reduce their gestures, but at the same time, it’s a sign of heightened self-consciousness and discomfort in the conversation.
When you’re feeling jittery or uneasy, your body tends to hold back a bit. Your hands, which usually help you express yourself, suddenly get shy.
They’re telling you, “Hey, let’s not draw too much attention right now.”
It’s a typical human response to feeling a bit anxious in a social situation that body language experts pick up on.
If you didn’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. And if you did and you’re trying to conceal it, try moving your hands as you typically do to be less suspicious.
8) Avoiding eye contact
When someone avoids eye contact, it’s often a symptom of discomfort, insecurity, or a desire to hide their emotions.
They’re basically sending out subtle signals that they’re feeling uneasy and uncomfortable.
It’s kind of like when you’re in a conversation with someone, and instead of looking straight into their eyes, they shift their gaze elsewhere.
It’s a simple way of reducing the intensity of the interaction. However, an expert may notice it quickly.
9) Nail-biting or lip-chewing
You know, those little habits like nail-biting or lip-chewing that you often catch yourself doing when you’re nervous?
Well, body language experts notice them too. They’re your body’s way of trying to calm the storm inside.
These behaviors are common signs of nervousness because they’re how we release all that pent-up nervous energy and give ourselves a tiny bit of comfort during those stressful situations.
It’s almost like your body’s (not so) secret coping mechanism, and experts can spot it in a heartbeat.
Nervousness can also impact speech patterns. Pauses, stammers, or struggling to find words appear as the mind races to keep up with the conversation, causing communication difficulties.
You might find yourself going, “Um, well, you know, umm…” as you try to express your thoughts.
That’s hesitation, and it’s something we’ve all experienced.
Body language experts pick up on this as a clear sign of nervousness because it shows that your brain is in overdrive.
It’s in a mental traffic jam, and your speech patterns become a bit erratic because you’re grappling with the pressure of the moment.
11) Gulping or swallowing hard
When your body is responding to anxiety, sometimes your mouth goes as dry as the Sahara desert.
That’s because our heart rate goes up, and our system floods with adrenaline. The downside is that it can make your mouth feel like it’s been zapped of all its moisture.
Now, the exciting part is that when you gulp or swallow hard, you’re flashing a neon sign that says, “I’m nervous!”
It’s something body language experts pick up on because it’s a reflex action, not something you do consciously.
Pacing nervously is something I commonly do in stressful situations and when I’m on edge.
It’s our body’s response to all that pent-up nervous energy. We walk back and forth, over and over, as if that simple act of putting one foot in front of the other can somehow help calm our racing thoughts.
Pacing is also a distraction. When we’re pacing, we’re not just standing there, fixating on our worries.
But ultimately, it’s also a visible clue for body language experts that we’re nervous, trying to find comfort or manage anxiety.
As is this:
13) Pupil dilation
Anytime I’m watching a really intense movie, I’m at the edge of the seat, and my heart is racing.
That heightened emotion often makes my pupils get bigger. When that happens, the body is gearing up for action.
That’s because when you’re super nervous or excited about something, your body’s automatic response is to get ready for potential threats or opportunities.
For that reason, your eyes prepare to take in more information.
However, body language experts pick up on this subtle sign as one of the things that can show someone’s feelings are really worked up or enthusiastic about a situation.
Ultimately, there are many big and small things veteran body language experts keep an eye on.
It’s very hard to hide your true feelings from people who are well-versed in noticing tiny details and have seen your exact actions countless times in the past.