Constant waking "nervous leg" during meetings: what does it mean?

Have you ever noticed that certain people, during seated meetings, will move one of their legs in short, ceaseless up and down motions, almost like a vibration. This isn’t restless leg syndrome, which happens to people in bed at night. It’s something that they don’t even seem to realize is happening.

I know that just about everybody does it once in a while. (I sometimes do it when writing and I get a spurt of ideas and I’m trying to make sure I get them all down.) I’m talking about the same people who always do this in a meeting. It always makes me wonder what it means. If these particular people are doing it because they’re nervous, then they must have some really nagging items to worry about. It can’t just be the effect of coffee–I often drink a lot of coffee before a meeting, and I don’t do this. Personally, I think they’re showing that they really aren’t invested in the meeting, even though they respond to and comment on whatever is being said.

What do you think?

I would call it a “bad habit” LOL :smiley:

Seriously I have jiggled my leg since I was little. I don’t know why but 40 years later I still do it and when I read this, I notice, sure enough I was doing it again.

In my case at least it’s just a habit

I’ve always done it as well. I annoy people with my constant motion. If I get the choice I’d rather pace around a room thinking than sit still, it comforts me more (as you can imagine, this can make tests annoying because I just want to get up and think but I can’t because it’s not allowed dammit). I’ve been known to take several hour long walks just because I’m mildly bored, which other people seem to be unable to fathom. I used to annoy my mom by never sitting and talking on the phone, I was always pacing around the house (or the room if on a corded phone).

If I’m not talking to anyone and waiting for something I always get asked “are you okay?” Or “you seem nervous, you should relax!” From friends or random passerby because I don’t sit and wait, I pace the hallway.

So I’d consider it just general moving about, though I think hyperthyroidism and dehydration could also cause it (don’t quote me on that).

I guess some people just fidget more then others - I see these people as having high energy, not that they aren’t paying attention. Do you feel the same way about those who do that twirly pen thing, or twist their hair, or doodle?

I’m more inclined to think the person that is just staring at their notebook or the wall rather then whoever is speaking or the presentation material is the one who is acting uninterested.

I think it’s just a nervous habit, like fidgeting with a pen or whatever.

Certainly in some situations it might be a coping mechanism for someone with Restless Legs Syndrome (I have RLS and my legs have been known to wanna play during meetins). But I think it’s usually just a form of fidgeting.


Well, actually, I’m thinking of a couple of people in particular. They seem like they’re paying attention during a meeting, but afterward it’s as if they had been on another planet. They never seem to recall the points that have been discussed–not even the more important concepts that should be the very least one takes out of a meeting.

No. The people who do these things are very much tuned in to the discourse, and leave very much on top of the important points.

The people I’m thinking of who vibrate their legs almost always just stare at the walls.

The thing is that if they’re addressed in the course of the meeting they usually can respond in an appropriate manner. It’s only after the meeting that they seem to have been completely absent.

I was thinking that exactly, but I didn’t want to jump to conclusions. And I certainly wouldn’t want to pry into anyone’s medical situation. It’s just that I constantly have to go over the points in the meeting–I really have to explain everything–again for each of these two. They might as well not have attended in the first place.

Also, these people only have “high energy” for a very short period of time. That energy disappears before the day is half over.

I think you’re reeeaaaallly generalizing. It seems like you are saying that ‘fidgeting legs = poor worker who doesn’t pay attention’.

I think that it’s actually ‘poor worker who doesn’t pay attention also fidgets’.

I think you’re just drawing some false conclusions because of a coincidental overlap. I find it’s often when I’m the **most **engaged that I’m jiggling my leg.

It’s very common with adults and Children with ADD and/or ADHD to fidget or jiggle their legs while concentrating.

This study came out this year that showed that this fidgeting helps these people maintain their concentration.

For the two in your meetings, it’s certainly possible they are dealing with ADD or ADHD and are attempting to concentrate better. Their lack of recall might be a sign of ADD as well. Things often go “in one ear and out the other.”

It’s tough to deal with ADD as an adult, because most people think of the disorder as primarily affecting troublesome pre-teen kids. But really, I think a lot of adults deal with these issues without anyone knowing.

Yep. That study is VERY intriguing to us with that problem.

The best answer I ever heard is that you are trying to focus on the topic at hand, i.e. the meeting. Your body is bouncing your leg to divert the part of your mind that wants to get up and run around, so that you can focus. Its giving you something physical that’s going on, which frees your brain to concentrate on the facts being presented to you.

Have you ever had the occasion to watch a room full of teenage boys being forced to sit still and pay attention? Half of them will be bouncing like that.

My best guess, then, is that no matter the amount of leg jiggling/hair twirling/pen tapping those two would do, the subject of the meeting simply did not spark their interest enough, or perhaps they were distracted by other concerns.

Under the same circumstances, this middle aged woman will be “bouncing like that”! It’s not in any way a conscious effort - I usually catch myself irritating others by my pen tapping and bouncy leg-from-hell. I would need a straitjacket seriously to sit still through the vast majority of meetings I’ve ever attended. And whether I got to fidget or not, I usually wouldn’t recall half of anything mentioned. :frowning:

(For the record, I have never been officially diagnosed with an attention deficit disorder. My husband, however, who we joke is the adult poster boy of ADHD, swears up and down that I am so afflicted. Once I have health insurance again here in a couple of months I will probably go try and figure out a diagnosis.)

I’ve stopped taking paper to meetings because I doodle like a motherfuck and waste paper and look like I don’t care. But I am paying attention and I can respond in the meeting. I may not retain details for very long afterward though–that’s where not having paper to take notes backfires! :smack: I do need reminders of what we talked about and then the content comes back.

But the doodling (like the leg jiggling) actually keeps me more present than I am without it.

I had a boss with a bouncy leg, and it always went away after he went to the bathroom.
I think he didn’t realize he was doing it. I wanted to pipe up, and that would cure him, but never got the nerve.

Neurological problems in the brain. The last decade I couldn’t stop my leg from bouncing at times without walking and then it started back up right away when I sat. At one time I couldn’t stay seated in a car for longer than 20 to 30 minutes, because my leg would get so bouncy. It was very annoying and inconvenient. Earlier in life it was minor compared to the other neurological problems.

My grandmother always blamed this on excess sexual energy. (To my grandmother, “excess”=“any at all.”) So she’d send them all out to run around.

I fidget like that and in numerous other ways. I bring my crocheting to lectures and having that motion keeps me from bouncing my leg, jiggling my foot, tapping my fingers, etc. Having somewhere to channel my fidgets also helps me not space out during lecture.

My legs jiggle like that in meetings. When I stand they keep doing it, to the point that I have made people with vertigo nauseous. It usually means I am trying to stay still and concentrate. Harder concentration tends to increase the RPMs, as does anxiety. This is mostly a process during assimilating new information.