My Nodding Habit

What is something I do when I am in agreement with someone, want to show support, try to display my understanding, or simply want to nonverbally answer a polar question?

I nod my head.

Of course, nodding one’s head is ubiquitous in our society; why do I consider my use of the gesture to be habitual?

Well, there is a video that I believe exemplifies the extent of my head nodding.

As one can tell, the video pokes fun at how much Hillary Clinton nods her head, and I can relate to this exposure of an overuse of the gesture.

I played badminton in high school, and throughout my last season of playing the sport this past spring, it was brought to my attention that I nod my head a lot (in addition to how easily I laugh at jokes). I was teased in a friendly way about it, and I somewhat enthusiastically played along with it. Even at our award ceremony at the end of the season, my appeasing tendencies were joked about, which concluded with my coach stating that those who wanted to make the team in the future should keep them in mind. I consequently nodded my head in enthusiastic and self-aware agreement and received some laughter.

The origin of my excessive nodding was never asked of me, but I took it upon myself to ponder how it started, which actually only took seconds. During my sophomore year of high school, I had an English teacher who greatly intimidated me. I got along well with my teacher personally, and I assume that my fear drove me to working very hard and carefully, but I still felt overwhelmed and humbled when my instructor’s stern lectures would inevitably ensue when my class was not up to standards.


My teacher explicitly stated this request to us quite often after explaining instructions to us so we would prove our comprehension. It is possible that I took my instructor more seriously than I should have, but as someone who is very easily intimidated (and was a vulnerable high school student at the time), I nodded with fervor in response to the command whenever it was asked of me.

From then on, I started to nod at everything teachers of all of my classes told me, as I wanted to prove that I was an engaged and obedient pupil who should be respected. Most students certainly nod their heads in response to their instructors, but it has been apparent that I employ the gesture ad nauseam when compared to others, although the fact that I usually sit towards the front of classrooms may skew my perception of others’ behaviors. Anyway, I still find myself nodding my head excessively to this day, and I have become both proud and insecure about this habit of mine.

First of all, I do appreciate my habitual nodding, as it has become my preferred way of displaying thought and engagement. Especially as someone who is not very comfortable among large groups of people, using the gesture as a way to display understanding without saying a single word is an appealing method of communication for me.

After my name was called during a class recently as a result of my excessive nodding, though, an interest in my habit and its consequences was initiated. Seeing various sources stating the negative effects of overusing the gesture sparked a greater insecurity in me; I certainly became apprehensive as I read that I may seem too eager-to-please and show a lack of authority  (on a side note, I find it interesting that most negative comments about head nodding are directed towards women).

These potential negative effects of perpetual head nodding are also demonstrated in the criticism of Hillary Clinton regarding the aforementioned video. Upon a Google search of “Hillary Clinton head nod,” one is presented with over six hundred thousand results, many of which show concern with her redundant utilization of the gesture.

So what I am essentially trying to portray is that I am akin to Hillary Clinton.

Okay, not really.

I do, though, find it fascinating that my interest in my head nodding and subsequent brief research uncovered parallels in our behavior. She nods her head quite often to exploit its meanings and receives skepticism from some of those who notice it; likewise, I nod my head frequently and receive both positive feedback and teasing from others. The fact that we may both be INTJ types adds even more context to our love of demonstrating acknowledgment and inner thought.

As a whole, I acknowledge that I nod my head quite frequently (and possibly too much), especially in classroom settings; if any of my readers have been in a class with me at some point, they may recognize this habit of mine. I will attempt to limit my use of the gesture to moments that truly merit them in order to make my nodding more meaningful, but I will admit that when eye contact is made with anyone, it will be extraordinarily difficult for me to inhibit my tendency to nod. I mean, if I do have a hard time breaking my habit, having a video counting the number of times I demonstrate a form of nonverbal communication would not be too bad anyway, right?

Do any of you have a habit of nodding your head, or do you have an opinion on those like me who nod excessively? Is my nodding really necessary, or will my habit be as detrimental as many suggest it could be? Please let me know.




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