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Anxiety mannerisms while talking to people


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Hi

I am hoping someone can relate to this problem I have.

When I am nervous (often !) taking to someone. Whether it is a friend or a co-worker or a boss, I have funny eye movement quirks or mannerisms which are all to do with anxiety.

I am now getting anxiety around my eye thing as I am starting a new job in a week or two. I have been where I have been for 4.5 years so they are probably used to my strange mannerisms.

I don't want to feel like a prat at my new job with this eye thing.

I recall being "told off" at work 15 years ago for the one mannerism which is to close my eyes while I am talking and while I am trying to think at the same time. In order to concerntrate on what I am trying to say I will close my eyes. But still carry on talking, arms moving in conversation etc. My MD told me it was "disconcerting"

(i therefore am in front of whoever with my eyes closed for an extra long amount of time thinking and talking at the same time looking like a blind mad orchestra conductor)

It must have flared up OR has become more noticeable recently as the other day my BF said "what are you doing ?????. You keep on doing xyz"

Another thing I notice I do.....is when I am talking (one on one usually) I zone off while I am thinking and I kinda look to the right or left to the person I am talking to. They invariably turn around to see what I am looking at. I sometimes have to make an excuse that I thought I saw someone I knew or something like that to cover up my embarrassment !

Help !

Edited by emilyrocks
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Hi Emily - I am not sure what work you do, so what sort of behaviour is acceptable. I work primarily in a design or print environment, so pretty much any mannerisms and quirk is acceptable. But I would probably struggle doing the same thing if I was an accountant.

I do similiar things to you, though I do not have an eye tick.

I often scratch my arm, when I get very nervous or anxious, or I flick my nails (annoying = yes).

I always look over someone's shoulder when I am talking to them. I struggle to stand still - and tend to bounce around, which is a bit disconcerting for some people.

I find work and meeting new people something that makes me very anxious - and I tend to keep conversations short and factual because of my inability to do small talk. If you do feel you are "nervous of people making flash judgements" - I personally find the seat of power" (for me) is to mention it first.

I will say that I am anxious or that I am nervous or if that environment does not lend itself to that, I will apologise and say "sorry, I have a stange tic going on, I have had a headache for a few days and it seems to be setting off this strange symptom - I hope it does not bother you"

The person will normally reassure you, and hope you get well. (I find that saying I have a headache is usually much more socialy acceptable than saying I am in the throngs of a full blown panic and anxiety attack -- as I am now)

Not sure that will help you in any way.

New jobs and meeting new people, is very stressful and full of moments of anxiety until you are "not the new girl/guy" anymore.

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i'm not sure what i would do... the headache excuse sounds like a really good idea to me.

i did want you to know that you aren't the only one who does these things. i just finished a six week round of daily group therapy, and i can think of at least two people there who close their eyes when trying to stop and breathe to speak clearly/calmly. i don't remember it being disconcerting, and the tdocs there didn't either. i definitely look over people's shoulders when i'm talking or look to the left all the time, if/when i'm anxious.

in situations where people don't know me but will definitely see me again (like at a new job), i'll make a joke that i'm shy at first but it doesn't take me long for that to wear off, so enjoy it while it lasts heh. i'm not shy at all with my words, i can find the right words to satisfy the conversation, but my ability to look directly at people takes longer.

i'm sorry this is bothering you. i'm not entirely sure that it's going to bother anyone else, though. i think there's an expectation at the beginning of any new job that you'll be "nervous" to some degree. when i've been in the position to train new people, i might comment to my own boss that a new person seemed nervous, but that has never been an indication of how that person performs (in my opinion or that of my bosses).

i wish you luck at your new position!

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Thanks for the feedback !

Unfortunately I am in the accountant type industry. Sharing an office with four or five other ladies for nearly 5 years - I have at some point given up hiding child sexual abuse/anxiety/bye-I'm-going- to-my- counsellor stuff.

But my feeling is that I should hide this all going into my new job. At least until they are used to me.

Which is why I am trying to figure out how to lose the looking into distance/closing eye thing now.

I think it is just a nervous habit I've got. I did the "looking off to the right of friends shoulder" last week and I've known her 8 years. But I was nervous for some reason or other.

I can explain it away to friends as ha ha ha there's something else funny with me.

I could always sticky tape my eyelids to my forehead for the first week of my new job I spose.

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I'm not sure how you would stop doing these things, although I can sympathize. I am usually scratching my arms or tapping on the table or my legs/arms throughout tense conversations. I don't usually close my eyes while talking, but I do often look elsewhere when I am talking. Also, I do nervous laughs. Lots of them, basically every sentence. Very annoying. (Although my counselor told me today that he feels the laughing is a quite "charming expression of anxiety or shyness", so I suppose other people might not find some of these nervous habits as annoying or disconcerting as I think they do.)

Although I don't think you can just lose these nervous habits, I wonder if it might be possible to replace them with slightly less obvious ones. I think, for instance, that looking away from a person while talking is probably less odd than actually closing your eyes. I try to intersperse my looking away with an occasional quick glance up at the person I'm talking to (and I do manage to look at them while they're talking). I think some people also try to just look at the other person's forehead, so you don't have to make direct eye contact but at least it looks okay. Something like that?

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Also, I do nervous laughs. Lots of them, basically every sentence. Very annoying. (Although my counselor told me today that he feels the laughing is a quite "charming expression of anxiety or shyness", so I suppose other people might not find some of these nervous habits as annoying or disconcerting as I think they do.)

damn i do this all the time (my husband even does this at times, and he is so not crazy). i am so glad to hear what your counselor said! the head tdoc from my group was kinda mean about it... she'd look at me with this stony face and say "you find that funny? why is that funny?". argh. i told her if laughing gets me through a tough subject, i'd rather do that than just shut up. or take a benzo. or whatever. if i was talking about someone else's misery and laughing, now THAT would be a problem...

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For me, and a few other people I'v talked to, when taking antipsychotics it slowed down their expressiveness in how they talk or express themselves, whether that be from just a general decline in sociability, or from the antipsychotics themselves. Some people get maskface from them. But overall, if you just look at someone's forehead when your talking to them, instead of trying to look at their eyes like calypte said, I should be OK. I kind of have the opposite thing, where my eyes are fully open and staring for no reason into the distance.

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Thanks for all the feedback.

I will definitely try the looking at forehead suggestion.

I was in group therapy last night and noticed the speaker also closing his eyes while talking. It's like a pondering thing that perhaps comes from being in long term therapy groups ? (I have been in various groups for 10 years).

It is quite acceptable I think in therapy groups to pause, close your eyes, ponder the point a bit, gather your thoughts and carry on. This has perhaps spilt over into my professional life. Where I don't want it.

<I also started to launch into a life story carreer related type thing when I was interviewed for the job. The interviewer said "lets move on ten years and focus on current day". I thought I had fecked it up. I think I need to set boundaries between therapy type sharing and professional communication going forward into a new job>

I also had another personal meeting last night and asked my friend if she had noticed my looking into distance over shoulder thing and closing eye thing and she said she hadn't, but now you mention it....there ! you just did it.

So I think I will ask a few people I know if it is noticeable.

I suppose I am fearful going into my new job and am focusing on this as an anxiety thing.

Thank you all.

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  • 1 month later...

I understand. I tend to get twitchy or laugh (the worst). I look over peoples heads. I try and look people in the eye but I get nervous. Sometimes I will be so focused on not trying to look at somebody a certain way etc I won't pay attention to anything they are saying. The nervous laughs have gotten me into some very uncomfortable situations.................

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just wanted to let you know that you're not alone in thisI, I have some anxious body language at times too, I fiddle with my earrings alot and don't always look the other person in the eye. I reckon my body langue makes me seem like I've got something to hide, hubby's used to it and commented that it's "just my anxiety" that make me look/ come across that way. I do often close my eyes and take a deep breath to order my thoughts & talk slower, or if I'm trying to remember something.

I'm not working at the moment, but I can imagine that when/if I go back to work that I'll be all kinds of anxious and I seriously hope that it doesn't get me into too many awkward situations...

Good luck with ur new position

edit to change font colour :)

Edited by Chiaroscuro
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I just remembered too that I've had a few people (who don't know me that well) comment to friends of mine (or mutual friends that we have) that I appear ready to burst into tears at any given moment or just come across as weird, anxious or wired. A few have even asked if I was high or something!!!!

So I guess my body langauge can be pretty messed up at times, coupled with the fact that my eye sight is not 20/20 to begin with and some days the Epilim can make it all a little bit more blurry, yeah I reckon I must come across as a right royal nutter at times!!! :)

edit to change font colour

Edited by Chiaroscuro
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Although I don't think you can just lose these nervous habits, I wonder if it might be possible to replace them with slightly less obvious ones. I think, for instance, that looking away from a person while talking is probably less odd than actually closing your eyes. I try to intersperse my looking away with an occasional quick glance up at the person I'm talking to (and I do manage to look at them while they're talking). I think some people also try to just look at the other person's forehead, so you don't have to make direct eye contact but at least it looks okay. Something like that?

We're in the middle of helping our son learn some different ways to minimize his tics. The great thing is, he couldn't give a crap whether he has tics or not. He's at that age (9) where he just expects people to deal with it. I hope he can hold on to that.

Anyway, you definitely aren't alone. I look around people when I'm nervous. I also stutter, which only presented itself few years ago. I also forget what I'm saying in the middle of a sentence. I usually just try to be honest and say "oops, brain fairies got that one".

You got a lot of good advice from the other posters. Hope it helps:)

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  • 1 month later...

Due to ADD, I am very figgity. It gets interpreted that I am nervous, but I am not. In meetings I have to remind myself to sit still. My GP left to room and my file. So I read it. Almost the first entry read "Patient very nervous and figgity". Ha. I figgit more when I have anxiety but that is well under control.

nf

Edited by notfred
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  • 3 weeks later...

I can imagine that closing the eyes would work a bit for anxiety because it lessens the feel of that expectant stare some people have when they are listening to you. I also have that "look off to the side so much that the other person wonders what I am looking at" thing going on. But I just don't like eye contact as a whole.

I also pull at my hair (my mum tells me this is a dead give away as to the state of my anxiety) and pick at my nails, which is pretty destructive at the moment.

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I struggle to maintain eye contact with people very long and look off to the left, often the person will assume I'm looking at something behind them. I'm trying but direct eye contact makes me nervous.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I am very socially awkward and do weird stuff as well. I just started a new job, too, and I find myself walking down hallways and tight spaces and panicking about if I should smile and make eye contact with everyone that passes me, or if I should just look at the floor... or stare straight ahead... or look elsewhere but with a smile on my face... I ponder these things frequently. So I imagine I must look like a freak to everyone. Then I feel bad when someone says hello to me, and I was not looking at them so i pause a moment to make sure they were talking to me so i can say hello back, only in the amount of time that took to complete they are now disappeared from view and if i say hello I'd be talking to the wall. Ugh. I'm glad to know I am not alone with this type of thing. I think the forehead idea is good too but can't people tell you aren't looking them directly in the eye? I don't know, I will have to try it on my mate and ask her if she can tell I'm looking at her forehead.

Also if I remain eye contact for too long then notice it and start thinking about it, my lip will suddenly do this weird pout-thingy and I will have to look away and invert my lip. Sigh.

Edited by 2Spirals
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I haven't logged in for a while. 5 months into new job.

My new boss had a nervous breakdown and was off for ten days just before I joined so I glided into the situation on the front foot. Someone else was having MI issues instead of me for a change.

I walked into chaos and haven't come up for air since.

I cannot say I've worried too much about my eye thing...although I notice I still do it. I got too busy. I was so busy and saved the day that they gave me a double check at xmas.

I think if I have too much time on my hands (like when I last posted above)....that it heightens my anxiety. I go into my dangerous neighbourhood mind alone and come up with all sorts of worries.

I know I have hectic anxiety still, but I am not so much in self assessment mode.

If this is all understandable. Bottom line, I am a hazard to myself when I analyse my shit too much and having a bit of spare time causes me to self anaylse.

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