14 Forms of Bullying and Threatening Body Language Targets Need to be Aware of (Part 2)

Female Track Competitors Glaring at Each Other

(Continued from Part 1)

In the last post, we stopped at the chest and shoulders. This post covers the rest of the body.

Arms- Akimbo. The arms of a bully are often akimbo (elbows out, hands on hips, thumbs forward). This makes the bully appear bigger and more powerful. It’s also used to intimidate any opponent and show power and superiority. To ward off bullies, stand with power, and send the message that you won’t be a victim.

Crossed Arms. When coupled with the jutted chin, bullies will also cross their arms anytime they’re facing someone. Crossed arms are not only a sign of superiority and power, they are also considered closed body language because when a bully crosses his arms when facing their opponent, they are “closed” to anything the other person has to say.

Note that victims will also cross their arms in intimidation when confronted by a bully. However, the difference is that they cross their arms to avoid a possible attack to the torso or they may throw their hands and arms in front of the face and neck. Also, instead of using the jutted chin, a victim will lower the head, hide the neck, and slouch. This is where paying attention to clustered body language comes in. To keep bullies away, never slouch, lower the head nor hide the neck. Always look confident!

Hands- The Clenching Fists. The bully will often clench their fists when they want to physically attack their opponent. Always see this as a sign the person wants to harm you and be ready in case they do.

Mid-Section- The Crotch Expose. This is done mostly by boys and men. Although it is a sign of sexual interest in a potential mate, it can also be used to intimidate and for dominance and power. Trust me. You’ll know the difference. If you are male, take a power pose. If you are female and this is used by a male bully for intimidation, either stand facing the bully with your feet apart and hands on your hips and challenge him with a glare or give him a dismissive look and walk away.

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Legs- Legs Apart. Most bullies stand with their feet shoulder-width apart to appear bigger and more powerful. Confident people also stand this way. Therefore, if you want to appear confident and ward off bullies, this is how you should stand.

There’s also The Dominant Leg Backstep. This is when the bully steps back with their dominant leg. Boxers in the ring do this just before putting up their dukes! If you see the bully step back with one leg, either get clear or be prepared to fight!

Feet- The Toe Point. Again, you must pay attention to the whole body to get an accurate reading. The toes always point to where the person wants to go. If a person likes you and enjoys your company, their toes will always point in your direction. If the person doesn’t like you or is afraid of you, they will want to get away from you and their toes will always point away from you.

However, if a bully wants to attack you, their toes will also point in your direction. You’ll know the difference by the other cues their body will give you. It pays to observe!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

14 Forms of Bullying and Threatening Body Language Targets Need to be Aware of

Eyes- That Creepy Piercing Glare. The eyebrows narrow and the eyes bore into you without blinking. The head does not move. The person stares you down as if they want to attack you. Bullies do this number to either challenge or intimidate their targets. Return the stare and the bully will likely go away.

Nose- The Nostril Flare. You’ve seen the nostrils of a bull flare when the animal is about to charge a matador. It’s the same with bullies. The nostrils flare to take in extra oxygen needed for a possible physical attack. When a bully does this, he’s hostile. When a person’s nostrils flare at you, look out! Because it is a sign the bully is about to physically attack you. Keep your eyes peeled and be prepared to defend yourself.

Jaw- The Jaw Clinch. The bully is gritting his teeth at the target and hiding it. When this happens, you’ll notice the jaws protruding. The bully either pulls this move to intimidate or in preparation for a fight. Again, this is a sign of a possible physical attack. Don’t ignore it. Stay vigilant.

Mouth – There are many expressions bullies use with their mouths. One of which is, The One-Sided Upper-Lip Raise. Coupled with a glare, people raise one side of their upper lip to convey contempt or disgust. Return the sentiment and the bully will likely move away. Thinned or Pursed Lips are a sign of hostility as are baring of the teeth or snarling. Again, return the expression but be prepared.

Chin- The Jutted Chin. The bully tilts the head back and juts his chin forward all for the purpose of looking down his nose at you. When the bully does this, he is either challenging you, trying to intimidate you, or he truly thinks he’s superior. Again, return the sentiment and the bully will back down.

Neck- The Exposed Neck. The bully will expose and lengthen the neck to challenge you. People do this to show that they aren’t afraid of the person in front of them and can hold their own if necessary. Bullies do it to make themselves appear taller and to intimidate anyone in their way. Again, reflect the gesture back to the bully and he’ll likely leave you alone.

too close personal space

Shoulders- The Shoulder Throw. Bullies will often throw their shoulders back to convey confidence and power. If you want to appear confident, never slouch the shoulders, always stand up straight, tall, and with your shoulders back.

Chest- The Puffed-Out Chest. The bully’s chest puffs outward toward the target. The chest fills with extra air in preparation for a possible fight. Again, this is not only done to make the bully look bigger and to intimate his opponent but also a sign of a coming physical attack. Be aware.

(Continued in part 2…)

Non-Verbal Means Bullies Use to Violate Targets

Bully boy teasing into camera, expressing aggression, POV victim of bullying

Most seasoned bullies seek to intimidate others by nonverbal means. Why? Because nonverbal bullying is subtle and least likely to be detected.

This type of bullying can occur either at school or in the workplace. Here are a few such subtleties.

1. They lean against the target’s desk, office doorway, car, etc. Anytime we lean against something, we stake a claim to or show ownership of that object.

How you handle it is to tell the bully point blank and in a stern voice,
“Get off my desk!”

Narcissist

2. The bully will sit in the other person’s chair. Again, any chair you sit in, you non-verbally lay claim to.

Address it by telling the person in no uncertain terms to unseat your chair.

3. The bully may also pick the target’s notebook, purse, off their desk, touch their property, etc. Understand that anything of yours the bully touches, he is laying claim to.

The unspoken message that the bully is sending is, “I own your desk, car, notebook, and anything that’s yours.”

Don’t ignore it and don’t be quiet about it. Open your mouth and tell the creep to keep his hands off your stuff.

bullying

When I was in school, I saw a bully walk up to a table of freshman boys during lunch and pluck a French fry from one of the ninth grade boy’s plates before popping it into his mouth without even asking.

It was clear that the bully was challenging the boy. The message was,

“I just took a piece of your lunch. Now, what are you going to do about it?”

Female bullies will often go through their target’s purses or jacket pockets or flip through their notebooks, yearbooks, or diaries. I’ve also heard of bullies walking into their victim’s homes without knocking.

I remember going on a school trip and finding out that my bullies had gone through my luggage and stolen fifty dollars, a dress, and jewelry from me while I was out of the room. Because there were so many bullies, it was difficult for me to confront the thief. Though I had a pretty good idea who stole my belongings, I couldn’t prove she took them!

Vector prohibiting palm

Understand that bullies will claim ownership to your space and your property, which only means that they believe they own YOU!

4. Bullies will violate your personal space. Bullies are notorious for getting too close.

Understand that when the bully gets in your face or looms you from behind, he is either trying to intimidate you, dominate you, challenging you, or attempting to provoke a fight. Do what you have to do. Tell this idiot to back the hell up!

Understand that these types of bullies have unlimited audacity, and they do not respect boundaries! With people who are bold and audacious, you must take a stand!

Never ignore them or allow yourself to be intimidated because these kinds of folks will only increase the behavior if you do.

The more you know!