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Uncomfortable Body Language: 9 Signs Someone Feels Uneasy

Uncomfortable Body Language: 9 Signs Someone Feels Uneasy

What are some signs of uncomfortable body language in a person? We never want to make someone feel uncomfortable, especially if they’re someone we care about.

Sometimes, we’re doing this unintentionally. It doesn’t matter if it’s your presence that’s making the person uncomfortable or if it’s the topic that you’re talking about.

Our brains are wired to do certain things that we’re not able to control. Even when we’re trying to hide our discomfort, it’ll start to show as the conversation moves on.

It doesn’t matter how hard we’re trying to hide it, there will be small cues that reveal we don’t want to be in this situation. It’s hard to differentiate if this is a normal movement that the person intends to make, or if it’s their body telling you to stop talking.

Either way, we’ll make sure to give you a couple of examples that you can look out for.

9 uncomfortable body language cues

Uncomfortable Body Language: 9 Signs Someone Feels Uneasy

1. They put a fist in front of their throat

Even though this move may seem harmless at first, you have to understand that this is one of the cues of uncomfortable body language. The person in front of you feels like they have to protect their throat.

In nature, a predator will go for the throat of their prey first. That’s where we’re most vulnerable.

You may think that it’s just a way for the person to rest their head on their fist, but that is not true. Especially, if they are touching and scratching their neck, and then putting a fist in front of it.

Sometimes, you may even see someone wrap their entire hand around their neck when they’re listening to you. They’ll spread their fingers to cover more space.

2. They’re creating more space between you

So, have you ever been in a situation where you were talking to someone, and they leaned back into their chair while you were talking? Well, that’s because the person was feeling uncomfortable.

Whenever someone feels discomfort, their natural instinct is to hide away from the source of that feeling. So, when you’re making someone uncomfortable, they’ll lean back in their chair.

Another way that they’ll create space is if they turn to talk to someone else, walk away from you, or even take the smallest step away from you. You won’t think much of it at first, but you’ll understand that they’re uncomfortable because this behavior is usually combined with other cues.

3. They’re touching or rubbing their face

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When you’ve been uncomfortable you’ve probably felt your face heat up. This happens when you’re embarrassed or when your thoughts are racing.

During a presentation at my University, a girl was talking about her view on a topic that was quite controversial. Besides the fact that she was stuttering, which she doesn’t usually do, she also lowered her voice. That’s when I noticed that she was lightly brushing her face with her hands.

That’s when the professor spoke up and told her something that wasn’t in favor of her opinion. She started to cover her mouth with her hands, and before she spoke again she was rubbing her face.

We do this because we tend to feel a tingling sensation in our face. This action grounds us and gives us more time to come up with a response. The girl was uncomfortable, and she wanted to mask her facial expressions by touching and rubbing her face.

So, when you see someone do this, just know that the person in front of you doesn’t feel comfortable talking about that certain topic with you. Sometimes, you can even see someone rubbing their eyes or nose vigorously. These parts of our faces tingle with the need to be rubbed at that particular moment.

4. Little to no eye-contact

Uncomfortable Body Language: 9 Signs Someone Feels Uneasy

We all know that avoiding eye contact is the most natural way to act when we’re uncomfortable or embarrassed. Even though it can be a sign of shyness, it can also signal unease.

When you’re at a café with someone, you’ll see them looking over your shoulder, or looking at their own feet. However, this doesn’t just happen in casual surroundings – it also happens in professional circumstances.

When you’re in a meeting and the manager is talking about some work that hasn’t been done, you’ll know who’s to blame by simply looking around the room. The person who made that mistake will look anywhere but their manager. They’ll look underneath the table, their notes, their hands, but never at other people in the room.

Someone who’s showing signs of uncomfortable body language can raise their eyes to the person that they’re talking to, but the eye contact will be extremely brief. They’ll probably do this consciously when they don’t want to seem uncomfortable, or when they want to analyze the body language of the other person, aka you.

5. They’re keeping their arms in front of their body

Everyone knows that the main sign of defense and discomfort in someone’s body language is when they cross their arms or their legs. However, uncomfortable body language shows a slightly different example.

When the person you’re speaking to is uncomfortable and puts their arms in front of themselves, it doesn’t look like they’re being defensive. It looks like they’re protecting themselves by hugging their body. The difference here is that their stance will be much more gentle.

You can even see them combine two or more uncomfortable body language cues. They’ll hug their body while putting one arm up to their throat, to hide their neck. Sometimes, they’ll just hold their hands together to soothe themselves.

You can often see this with public speakers who have been asked an uncomfortable question. They’ll hold their hands together in front of themselves.

6. They’re fidgeting

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Another example of uncomfortable body language is when someone starts to fidget.

Some people have different ways to do this. Sometimes, they’ll start bouncing their legs, they’ll start biting their lips, playing with something on the table, or even cracking their fingers.

Have you ever seen someone who’s put on the spot or simply doesn’t feel comfortable with a situation? They have the immense need to fidget. This is the body’s way of releasing pent-up energy and unease.

Of course, this can also be a personal habit. Some people crack their fingers without any plausible explanation other than it being a simple habit. However, more often than not, it’s a sign that someone is extremely uncomfortable.

For example, I would always fidget when I was meeting new people. I had an immense need to be likable which would put me under stress.

If you want to help someone in this situation, you can always take a more relaxed stance, and affirm to them that everything is okay. But never call the other person out on their fidgeting because that will only make them more uncomfortable.

7. They’re not mimicking your body language

One thing about human body language is they’ll mimic your behavior if they’re comfortable. For example, your best friend will lean into you when you lean over the table, she’ll use the same hand gestures, and she’ll always respond with the same enthusiasm.

However, someone who’s uncomfortable will show that through their body language. They’ll completely shut off any mimicking that could be going on if they feel otherwise.

This person won’t lean into you when you’re leaning into them, you won’t see them moving their arms in the same way that you are, and so on. There won’t be any enthusiasm that matches your in the conversation.

At times, you may even feel like their body is extremely stiff.

8. They turn their body away from you

Uncomfortable Body Language: 9 Signs Someone Feels Uneasy

All of these examples of uncomfortable body language can be put together, and you’ll most commonly see someone do all of the above when they’re uneasy around you. However, one gesture that is rare, but still falls under this category is that the person will turn their body away from you.

You’ll be facing them completely, but they’ll turn their body the other direction. The first sign, however, is when their feet aren’t pointing your way. This sounds silly, but it’s genuinely true.

9. Self-soothing gestures

Uncomfortable body language is obvious, and if you’re someone who is commonly uncomfortable, then I’m sorry – but others can see it. However, the best way to tell if the person next to you is uncomfortable is by seeing if they’re doing any self-soothing gestures.

Self-soothing is when the person is touching their body in order to make themselves feel alright and safe. We’re used to this from our parents because they used to soothe us when we weren’t well. Now we have to do it by ourselves.

For example, they’ll start to rub their legs with their hands, they’ll rub their arms, and hug themselves. Self-soothing doesn’t look the same for everyone, so it could be shown in different ways. Sometimes, people even pinch their legs – which isn’t soothing for most of us.

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