We’re going to talk about the type of body language that can prevent you from being targeted, possibly saving your life!
Just like with every episode, we want to make sure you know that being the victim of a crime is never your fault. Even if you do the opposite of the things we say in this episode, it’s not your fault. We want you to be armed with all the knowledge possible because knowledge is power. And if you know how to keep yourself safe, you’ll actually BE more safe!
This episode is based on the study conducted by Betty Grayson and Morris I. Stein. These guys did us a huge solid, and set out to determine why violent offenders chose their particular targets.
They set up a camera and recorded a busy street for three days, and then showed the video to violent criminal offenders. People who were incarcerated for committing violent robberies, rapes, and murders against people they did NOT know.
What I found to be really interesting about this study, is that it concluded, that in the same way we can tell by their body language if someone is violent, dangerous, creepy, friendly, awesome, whatever, criminals can assess body language and tell if someone is an easy target or if they are more likely to cause a scene or fight back. Just gives me shivers. Creepers be CREEPIN, Y’all.
Each of the 50+ criminals chose most of the same people from the video. They chose people, not based on gender or race, but by their body language. They targeted people who shuffle or limp, people who walk slow and who appear to be oblivious to their surroundings.
We need to exude confidence when we’re out and about, walking, meeting people, freaked out, just all the time. NBD right.
So, the good news is that even if you feel scared or insecure, you can FAKE Body Language to make yourself look like a difficult target.
Let’s start with how you walk:
Take forceful dynamic strides that make you look assertive and confident. Think about a business woman who’s got somewhere to BE. You’re not Running or walking TOO fast like you’re scared, but you want to walk like time is money and you have no time to waste. Stride length should look natural and fluid, but determined. You should be walking at a similar pace or slightly faster than those around you. Let your arms swing naturally with the pace of your walk. Now that you’re thinking about it, they’re going to suddenly stop swinging. Ok, stop overthinking it, and just let it be natural.
Now that you have the walk down, let’s talk about your Posture:
You should have your chin up. Nope, not checking Instagram because it’s uncomfortable to be out around strangers. You’re going to have to face strangers for a few minutes.
Your back should be straight, not slumped over. Your shoulders should be down. I’m bad about this one. Don’t shrug them up near your ears, relax them, and let them drop. Think about squeezing your shoulder blades together. Nowwww you look like a freakin business woman. This is also great posture for any situation. Not only is it great for your back and neck, but it makes you look confident when you’re sitting, too. So if you keep great posture during a job interview, or a date, or just when you’re sitting on the train during your commute home— you’re going to just spew confidence. And if you know you look confident, you will eventually feel confident too.
Let’s think about some things you should do as you walk:
- Keep your pace similar to those around you
- Be super aware of your surroundings.
- Make eye contact with people you meet, when it is natural. You can also smile and say hello if it’s not weird. I do this when I’m hiking, for instance. People love seeing my dogs, so it’s pretty normal. It would be less normal if you were walking down 5th avenue in NYC, though.
Here are a few don’ts to keep in mind:
- don’t look down at your phone, or your feet.
- don’t look around wildly like a freaked out baby animal. Just take notice of your surroundings and the people around you
Every pedestrian who walked slowly or shuffled their feet was chosen as an easy target. YOU HEAR THAT FEET SHUFFLERS?! I hate when people shuffle their feet. Don’t shuffle your feet guys. Just don’t do it.
Research also found that the dominance and submissiveness that a woman exudes determines how vulnerable she looks to a predator.
Dominant body language
Standing taller than the other person. So don’t be in a position where you’re lower than someone who is intimidating you. For instance, if you’re sitting down on public transit, or at a bar, and someone is standing over you talking to you, they have the advantage. Just standing up, even if you’re shorter than them, will help to level that playing field.
Taking a wide stance with feet apart.
Making eye contact
Speaking, and acting relaxed and natural, even if you’re maybe feeling a little intimidated. Maintain your posture, maintain eye contact.
These are all ways to exert dominance, or at the very least confidence if someone is trying to make you feel small. This is useful for being confronted by a guy at the bar who is coming on a little too strong, or if you have this kind of overbearing coworker.
In some cases, it’s actually useful to avoid eye contact. If someone is catcalling you for example, or trying toget your attention from across a room, you can do a scan in their direction and intentionally NOT Look directly at them. OUCH. HIS EGO
Take up plenty of space. Stand with your hands on your hips and your feet wide. Lean back in your chair, kick your legs out and put your hands behind your head with your elbows out, etc. the saying ‘large and in charge’ exists for a reason.
Submissive body language:
These are gestures and postures that make you appear smaller.
Hunching your shoulders over, crossing your arms and legs, things like that. You’re taking up less space.
Bowing your head
Big, doe eyes are submissive.
One resource I found said that these are postures most women are taught to be more lady like. Like crossing your legs, while men get to man spread. Nah girl. Man spread. Or as I like to call it, Manda spread.
There’s a Ted Talk, given by Amy Cuddy. She dives into the psychology behind our body language and it is great info. You can train yourself to become a confident person by using your body language and practicing large postures at home. It will be linked on our website, so be sure to check it out!
What do you guys do to feel more secure and confident?!