Displaying Stress Can Make You Accessible

Humans behave in peculiar ways. We quickly share our inner feelings when we are weak, which is not a wise thing to do. We can tell when someone is in pain, annoyed, or upset just by observing their behavior. Isn’t the ideal tactic to conceal one’s weakness true? Why take the chance of being taken advantage of? Many other animals rarely exhibit observable behavioral changes when they are in distress. To determine pain or stress, veterinarians and animal caregivers must rely on changes in blood pressure, heart rate, or hormone levels. But is there a benefit to publicizing your vulnerability?

We’ve known for a long time that stress and behavior are inextricably intertwined. When people feel anxious, they are more inclined to engage in what is known as self-directed behavior. We lick our lips, bite our nails, fumble with objects, etc. However, how others perceive these stress-related behaviors has remained a mystery. Can we tell when someone else is stressed? What effect does this have on our perception of them? Humans, it turns out, are pretty skilled at recognizing when someone is worried. The more anxious a person claimed to be, the more stressed others perceived them to be – a clear, direct relation.

Other individuals can tell when we’re stressed, evidence that these behaviors function similarly to different sorts of nonverbal communication. People’s initial reactions to “stress signallers” are not negative but somewhat highly favorable. We expect individuals to exploit our vulnerabilities, but displaying your fragile side promotes social bonding and compassion. We are the most friendly mammals, more so than any other. We are drawn to individuals who are forthright about their aims and mental condition. Display your emotions, whether positive or negative. Don’t try too hard to hide your anxiety during that important presentation or interview. Using your behavior to communicate honestly and organically may positively impact others.