If your conversation partner is doing any of these things while you talk, what could be going on?

  • Rocking
  • Leg swinging
  • Tapping

These are the first signals of tension and indicate that the person feels intruded upon or nervous. If it escalates, these signals are often followed by:

  • Intermittent closing of the eyes
  • Slight tucking of the chin into the chest
  • Shoulder hunching

If you sensitize yourself to these simple cues, over time, people will have the experience of feeling more relaxed, at ease and open with you (and to you).

Basically, learn to watch for signals, and then adjust your approach. Sometimes just taking one step back, or ceasing talking and getting the other person to talk to you instead, will be all it takes to ease the tension.