What Are Your Pacifying Behaviors?

Communication Skills, Emotional Regulation, Nonverbal Communication, Self Management

Pacifying Behaviors

By Starla

January 14, 2023

 Minute Read

When working with individuals in professional transition, we often discuss the importance of walking into every job interview with complete confidence – genuinely believing that the individuals you meet will like you and see the value in what you have to offer.

For many, though, the job interview is an uncomfortable environment. When we find ourselves in an uncomfortable environment, our limbic brain "leaks" our negative feelings out to the rest of the world through body language.

In an attempt to restore itself to "normal conditions," the brain will enlist the body to provide comforting behaviors. In other words, the brain requires the body to do something that will stimulate nerve endings to release calming endorphins in the brain so the brain can be soothed. (Panksepp, 1998, 272) (Navarro, 2007, 141-163) (Navarro & Karlins, 2008, 35-37)

Examples of these comforting/pacifying behaviors would be soothing our neck with a gentle massage, stroking our face, or playing with our hair - which is my pacifying behavior. Shhh...Don't tell anyone! 🙂

For others, a pacifying behavior might be using one hand to rub a finger on your other hand, using both hands to rub the tops of your thighs, rubbing your cheeks or lips from the inside with your tongue, or exhaling slowly with puffed cheeks. (Last week I spoke with a gentleman whose pacifying behavior was grabbing his earlobe and massaging it for a few seconds.)

Why is this important?


Nonverbal communication is a means of transmitting information through facial expressions, gestures, touching, physical movement, posture, body adornment (clothing, jewelry, hairstyle, tattoos, etc.), and even the tone, timbre, and volume of an individual's voice.

Even though the transmission of this information comprises 60-65% of all interpersonal communication, most people go through life unaware of what their body language is saying to others.

And because people aren't always aware that they are communicating nonverbally, body language is often more honest than an individual's carefully crafted words.


And when there is a discrepancy between WHAT someone says and HOW they say it, we almost always believe their body language over their spoken word.


Since pacifying behaviors can be read in real-time, others can observe and decode them immediately (Navarro & Karlins, 2008, 35-37). If a person with whom we're interacting observes our pacifying behavior and senses we are uncomfortable, it could influence their overall perception of us.


Plus, it can be distracting, therefore, it is imperative that we know what our pacifying behaviors are and learn to proactively manage them so that we always appear "nonverbally confident," even when we might not be feeling so confident on the inside.

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