What are the top tell-tale signs that someone is nervous? Body language tricks that hide nervousness well.

Here are stress cues and tips on how to prevent stress from Patti Wood, Body Language Expert, Coach and Author of "SNAP Making the Most of First Impressions Body Language and Charisma."

What are the top tell-tale signs that someone is nervous?

When someone is stressed. Their automatic nervous system will cause them to sweat more, particularly in the palms of the hands (which perspire solely in response to stress, breathing becomes uneven, the throat and lips become dry and swallowing may increase in frequency. But let’s say you’re watching someone giving a speech, interviewing for a job or being questioned during a performance appraisal.

Research on accurate lie detection's says most of believe someone is lying if their voice shakes, or they cannot make eye contact, they blink frequently, maybe they cover their face with their hand, or moisten their lips. But, each of these actions are actually signs of nervousness.

They may give stress cues, (also called comfort cues or pacifying gestures.)

·         Rubbing Motions—These motions are complicated. Rubbing may be a means of self-assurance. For example, we may gently rub a gold chain around our neck just before an interview, symbolically making it shine.

·         Nose, Eye and Ear Rubbing—Often signify disbelief or disagreement if done by the listener or: “Boy, that doesn’t smell right to me, that doesn’t look right to me, that doesn’t sound right to me.”  Or deception if done by a speaker. Note: The nerve ending in those location fire when we are stressed making them itch so it makes sense you touch the face when you’re anxious.

·         Holding MotionsHolding are own hand, placing are arms around our shoulders or stomach. When we were little and we were anxious or scared, our moms or dads held on to us, and the holding motion assured us that everything would be okay. As adults, when we are anxious or afraid we repeat these motions to reassure ourselves that everything is going to be all right.

·         Comfort cues and or Preening Motions—We use self-comfort touching your wrist. They may touch the neck and their limbic brain may fear attack, and respond with a primal response desire to cover their carotid artery and or windpipe (women touch the center and the base of the neck and may even place their entire palm over their neck or heart to protect it), the pulling up your pants or adjusting belt.  These motions to prepare ourselves for a stressful interaction like a speech a job interview. In preparation to flirt you may also touch your hair, rub out the wrinkles on your pants, adjust belt or watch, tuck in your shirt, and women may touch their collars and or jewelry. These self-touch motions offer comfort to us.

The neck a classic position where a predator attacks, either going for the jugular artery at the side or crushing or ripping out the windpipe.  When people feel threatened they will thus naturally act to protect the neck, pulling the chin down to protect the throat and possibly also raising the shoulders to protect the sides of the neck.  When a person is uncomfortable with what they are saying or where they are saying it, then their neck muscles may tense, affecting their voice through constriction of the windpipe or tensing of the vocal chords. This can cause their voice to go higher or sound strained and may cause discomfort in the neck and the hand thus acts to sooth this irritation.

If they are confused and stressed they will shift in their seats or shuffle their feet.
Their brows may furrow and they may rub their eyes or face typically downward,
as if they could clear their head. They may touch their temple or forehead
symbolically pushing the ‘on’ button for their brain. Their eyes may blink or
stretch open, as if they hope they could see more clearly. Also look for cues that
look asymmetrical.

We have “windows” all over our bodies: at the top of our head, our eyes, our mouth, our throat, our upper chest or heart, the palms of our hands, our knees, at the toes and the soles of our feet. We may close one or more of those windows when we are stressed, by crossing our arms, turning away, buttoning up a jacket, hiding our hands

We open and close our heart window in four ways: through the clothing we wear, the way we position our heart window toward or away from someone, the use of physical barriers such as books and counters, and finally, through our arm and shoulder

What are the body language tricks that hide nervousness well? Or the most effective body language trick to hide nervousness?

Try to keep your hands at your sides most of the time. It’s ok to cross your arms briefly, just don’t freeze in a closed position.

The belly window is the area between the bottom of the ribs and the top of the hips. This area is particularly vulnerable to attack. It is the area that often receives punching and stabbing in a fight. As anyone who watches action movies, police dramas, CSI or frankly any television can attest, if the gut is pierced,  internal bleeding can cause a slow death. Holding hands across the belly can thus be a defensive act when we fear any form of physical or emotional attack.

·         When you’re stressed, you often feel cold, and crossing your arms can make you feel warmer. The science tells us that the area under the limbic brain engages different systems in you to prepare for the freeze, fight, flight or faint survival response. The blood is channeled away from the skin towards the large muscles of the limbs (as well as the vital organs so are heart keeps beating and are lungs take in air). Without the blood
to warm the surface of the skin, we feel cooler. So guess what? We often cross our arms to get warm.  If that is a typical problem for you wear a T-shirt under your clothes. (This goes for women as well as men)

·         Rehearse success: Visualize your success before the interview, rather than imagining all the things you might do wrong. Most people when faced with a difficult situation like a job interview or a speech imagine themselves failing; you create a movie where they don’t make a good impression. Instead, rehearse your success and create a positive script. Prepare by first practicing “live” with someone. Then visualize your successful movie closing your eyes and visualizing yourself in the interview... Imagine how you will shake hands well and sit with confidence, be warm and friendly, listen attentively and answer with confidence all the questions you’re asked. Play the movie of you giving a successful interview in your head over and over so that when you are under stress, you can easily go to the positive, successful responses you have rehearsed.

·         Merge:  Think of a time on the job, or in your personal life, when you experienced a success, take a success from any part of your life where you have had an emotionally satisfying experience where you have felt confident, fully alive and positive. Notice how you feel, tell yourself that story, feel those emotions and merge those positive emotions with the new story of your job interview success. (We create and experience stories in the emotional right hemisphere of our brain. When we recall and retell these stories, we re-experience the feelings that accompany them. By using the merging technique, you can bring positive emotions and success into any situation.)

·         Pop:  You can take this process one-step further by creating a pop anchor to feel and act more positively in your interview. I had a client who was having trouble visualizing success after a number of negative job interview experiences. He didn’t have a positive memory of a work scenario to recall. We used what I call my pop tool, so he could
“pop” to a more upbeat, optimistic body language. I asked him to recall what activities or situations made him feel that way. “Sailing!” he quickly replied, and his whole demeanor changed as he explained why. While he was in this mode, I asked him to “anchor” these feelings to his subconscious by briefly touching his leg. Then we watched our
recording, and he touched his leg when he saw and felt the confidence and excitement he liked.

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at www.PattiWood.net. Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at www.snapfirstimpressions.com. Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at http://youtube.com/user/bodylanguageexpert.