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Dealing with the bully and bullying, part two: Strong vs. Weak Body Language


When bullies, bad guys, or bozos profile a potential target, they first assess body language and voice. How you turn, talk, walk, sit, and stand often determine if you show up on their radar.

No, it’s not fair. Nobody wants to be stereotyped or pigeonholed into any kind of “victim” role. And yes, even strong body language and great voice control might not always save you from a determined criminal or a bullet. But since most bullies and criminals survey a scene first, why not give the look of someone they should avoid?

Confidence is about looking comfortable. Your self-assurance, sense of ease, personal bearing, timbre of voice, and how you fill the room with your energy may seem intangible, but they still make an impact.

In this second post on handling the bully and bulling (part one is here), discover more about your body language and the “you,” you present to the world. Compare the following examples of weak and strong body language, and see where you fit. Is this you?

Examples of weak body language and voice

weakbodylanguage✦ Eyes down, appearing unsure
✦ Smile held too long as if trying to please
✦ Walk with shoulders drooping
✦ Unable to hold the gaze of others
✦ Look nervous or uncomfortable in own skin
✦ Use a higher pitched, nervous voice
✦ Become insecure and unsure when personal space is invaded
✦ Often end sentences with an upward inflection as if seeking approval
✦ Move with jerky, hesitant motions, hair twirling, constant tapping of foot
✦ Hand and arm motions are protectively close to the body

Notice that the weak presentation shows a person is uncomfortable and insecure. Unfortunately, when it comes to bullies and criminals targeting potential “victims,” this quote sums up reality:

“If you look like prey, you will be eaten.”

So let’s look at stronger body language. Is this you?

Examples of strong body language and voice
✦ Eyes up, looking aroundstrongbodylanguage and appearing ready and aware
✦ Smile when appropriate and with ease
✦ Walk with shoulders back, chin up
✦ Able to look people in the eye with confidence
✦ Appear calm and comfortable in own skin
✦ Use a strong voice, usually deeper
✦ Verbalize preferences to keep an appropriate personal space
✦ Often end sentences with an downward inflection, showing confidence
✦ Move with fluid motions. Hand & arm motions are wide, open and expressive.

So how did you do? How much do you notice your own body language? Now take a look at your children — do they have strong body language, voices filled with certainty, and skills at setting personal boundaries?

Thank you for visiting and learning about self defense.
If you think others can benefit, please pass it on!

Lori Hoeck

Photo Credits: (top image) mando2003us and Fuyoh! (blue figures) 

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Davina October 13, 2009, 11:15 pm

    Hi Lori. I’m pretty conscious of how I walk when I’m out and about after learning that sexual predators are more likely to attack someone who looks easier to overpower. I can see how this also applies to bullying. I also believe that how a person carries themselves in the workplace affects how their colleagues treat them — it even affects how we feel about ourselves when we stand taller.

  • Lori Hoeck October 15, 2009, 6:56 pm

    Hi Davina,
    I so agree. What is it — 80-90 percent — of our communications are non-verbal? It means we say a lot without saying a word.

  • vered | blogger for hire October 16, 2009, 5:39 pm

    Very interesting. The “weak” type you describe – I find it so endearing. It saddens me that bad people mark them as victims and pick on them.

  • Lori Hoeck October 18, 2009, 3:53 pm

    Hi Vered,
    Perhaps a better word than “weak” would be “insecure,” for those body positions are often ones of insecurity.