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…)

Body Language of Bullying: 12 Ways Bullies Communicate Dominance, Superiority, and Hostility

Bullies always display these types of body language, especially around their targets.

Dominance and Superiority Body Language1. Bullies take up lots of space to appear bigger. You will often see bullies place their hands on their hips and stand extra tall.

2. They will often stand extra close to their targets– so close that they will sometimes touch them as they deliberately invade the target’s personal space. They do this to intimidate them.

3. Bullies will also frown and purse their lips at the target while maintaining unblinking and unwavering eye contact (boring their eyes into their target like a dagger) without moving their heads.

4. They will freely touch their targets because they have no regard for their personal space. For example, a bully may give the target a hard slap on the back or grab the target by the arm and lead them where they want them to go. A bully may also physically move the target to the side or shove past him/her.

Girl sitting on the ground and drawing personal space

Understand that the bully intends to show the target who’s in charge or to compete with him. The bully may also do these things to signal ownership of the target. Yes, in the bully’s mind, he owns you if you’re a target. The message is, “You’re mine, I own you, and I can do what I want with you.”

5. If the target is sitting, the bully or bullies will often stand over him to look bigger and more intimidating. Bullies who are short in stature will often stand on something to appear taller than their victims. Some may stand on their tiptoes.

Bullies will also lay claim to a territory (desks, spaces, parking spaces) and expect others to obey rules when near the claimed area or object.

6. Other ways of Invading the target’s space and claiming ownership – bullies may walk into the target’s room, office, or home uninvited and without knocking. They may sit in the victim’s chair without asking permission.

Other invasions include leaning on the target’s vehicle, parking in their parking spaces, cutting in front of them in line, or propping their feet on the back of the target’s chair when sitting behind them (I had a group of girls do that to me in school, and it was unnerving).

Understand that bullies crave control and do these things to take away the target’s power.

7. Bullies also put their hands on the target’s personal belongings with a carefree attitude. But know that the message the bully is sending the target is this. “I own you, so I own anything that is yours.”

 Here is a classic often seen. Bullies may walk up to the target’s table during lunch, pick a French fry off their plate in front of them, and pop it in their mouths. They may pick up the target’s fork and take a bite of their food.

Bullies may also pick up the target’s phone and began scrolling through the contents. Bullies will even rummage through the target’s purse or pick up the target’s jacket and go through the pockets. The hidden message the bully is sending is, “I can take whatever I want, and what are you going to do about it?”

8. Another way bullies invade territory is to walk in the center of a hallway or sit on a flight of stairs, expecting people to move and go around them. Bullies may also stand in the middle of a road and driveway or take their time crossing the street, forcing cars to stop and wait.

9. Bullies also show dominance by how they dress or the car they drive.

Do Not Ignore This. Always make yourself powerful as well.

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If a bully violates your space or belongings, always call them out on it. Never let it happen without asserting yourself. If a bully stares you down, always return the stare. Either look them in the eye or look them between the eyes.

If they look at you while standing feet apart and arms akimbo, reflect the exact same stance back to the bully. Mirror the bully to show that you’re not the least bit intimidated by them. If the bully is rushing you, slow down. Do not speed up! Remain calm.

Dress your best and look your best. This shows that you take pride in how you look and conveys confidence. It also helps you to feel better. When we look better, we also feel better!

10. Hostility Body Language – Bullies may look at their target while pinching their chin. The pinching of the jaw is used to release the hostile thoughts without acting on them– it is a way to hold back the urge to physically attack the target.

Understand that when a bully looks at you and pinches any part of the face, this signals the bully’s secret wish to harm you.

11. Another sign of hostility as when a bully looks at their target, then pounds a fist into a tabletop, wall, or the palm of his/her opposite hand. Any object the bully pounds is only a substitute for the victim’s physical body.

Girls and women will often bite their lip, suck on the inside of their jaw or chew the inside of the mouth while looking at their target.

12. Bullies also show hostility by sizing up their target. They size you up by directly facing you, clinching their fists and puffing out their chests.

Male bullies will snarl at their victims, whereas female bullies will glare at their targets with dirty looks. Clenching a jaw where the jaw is protruding outward is another sign of hostile intentions.

Bullies often glare at their targets persistently and intensely without blinking. Their faces turn red, and they will often stretch. These are sure signs that a bully wants to physically attack you and they will do it soon. Again. Do not ignore this!

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.

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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!

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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!