Why You Should Learn to Read People

Closeup portrait of a skeptical man looking suspicious, some disgust on his face mixed with disapproval isolated on gray background. Negative human emotions, facial expressions, feelings

I have a Spidey-sense when it comes to people. I automatically pay attention to others’ non-verbal communication and also their silences. I notice the clothes they wear and the arrangement of objects in their homes and workspaces.

I also notice patterns in their breathing, tensions they have in certain muscles (mainly the neck and jawline), and read the subtext in conversations. I even pay attention to their feet! In participating in or listening to conversations, I home in on what is implied rather than what is said. There is no such thing as an action that doesn’t communicate something.

Having been bullied in school ended up making me a very accurate people-reader. If there’s anyone who will teach you of the level of evil human beings are capable of, it’s bullies.

Once you have suffered the vicious onslaught of a bully or group of bullies over an extended period of time, your people senses sharpen tremendously, allowing you to better pick up on body language, facial expressions, tonality, and the hidden emotions/intentions of others around you. Even better, you learn to read those split-second flashes or micro-expressions most others miss. Why? Because it’s key to your survival!

This is only natural. An example of this would be a person who has lost their sight. We’ve heard stories of people who have suddenly gone blind. These same people reported that the other four senses automatically sharpened to compensate for the lost ability to see, which is only a natural survival mechanism of the body. It is the same when someone is bullied.

A victim of bullying is in a constant state of being threatened, both physically and psychologically. To survive, the person’s “sixth sense” and the ability to even better read non-verbal communication heightens to near perfection. Again, this is only the brain’s and body’s way of protecting them.

Understand that what compels a person to hon certain powers is always…ALWAYS necessity. If we feel that our survival depends on how well we read the emotions, moods, and intentions of those around us, we will find a way to tap into that power, learn it, and learn it forward, backward, upside down, and sideways!

Understand that people-reading isn’t only about doing it with your eyes and ears. It goes much deeper. It’s also about using your gut, tuning into their moods, and feeling those moods. You must learn to sense the vibrations that others put out!

Close up of examining a test sample of microchip transistor under the microscope in a laboratory.

I can automatically feel others’ moods, sensing every vibe they emit, and honestly, some of what I’ve felt in those around me didn’t feel good and was downright scary! However, I consider myself blessed to have this ability because it keeps me safe. As an adult, I now know how to avoid unsavory people. Even better, I no longer am bullied and haven’t been in years!

Learning the art of people-reading is an absolute must if you find yourself on constant defense against bullies. All it takes is to stand back and quietly observe the people around you, and you don’t have to stare a hole through them to do it. You can always watch people without looking directly at them by using your peripheral vision to do so. So, why not start today?

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The sooner you begin, the sooner this will become like second-nature to you. The more and the longer you practice, the better you will become. Know that everything people do- the way they walk, talk, stand, sit, eat, arrange things in their environment, the types of people they associate with…EVERYTHING they do gives clues as to their moods, their character, and most importantly, whether or not they are for or against you.

So, keep your eyes, ears, AND spidey-senses peeled!

A Bully’s Nonverbal Language from Head to Toe (Part 2)

Female Track Competitors Glaring at Each Other

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!

A Bully’s Nonverbal Language from Head to Toe

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…)

Critical Thinking- Another Reason Targets are Targeted

Having been a target of bullying in the past and spoken to other survivors of bullying through the years, I’ve noticed another factor that marks people for bullying- a virtue that bullies, authoritarians, and despots despise in others- virtues that make targets, well… targets.

People like us tend to think critically. We’re not like most people. We don’t blindly trust, follow, and obey authoritarian types who think they know more than we do. We question authority. We automatically ask ourselves, “If we follow along, what’s in it for them?” We figure out what their possible motives are.

We aren’t too lazy to read the fine print or do our research and figure out the facts. We’re also superb at reading between the lines- reading subtext and deciphering context, non-verbal communication, and probing for incongruencies. If something feels “off,” we’re automatically suspicious of it. We know that 2+2=4, not 5! And we know when someone is trying to manipulate us. We practically have a radar for manipulation.

We question narratives. We probe the status quo. We do things differently and make it a point to live life on our terms, not someone else’s. And we’re willing to take whatever comes with it. We refuse to be controlled by feckless fools who are drunk with power. We know all too well that power corrupts because we’ve been victims of it. Everyone is at some point.

People like us are not likely to be ruled by fear. We follow our own intuitions and are very creative with new ideas. We consistently search for better ways of doing, living, and being. Most others hate that about us. Why? Because most people are trained to follow, and they fall in line and take the safest way through life.

But we’re not afraid to be different. Again, bullies loathe us for that! And the unspoken messages we get from every direction are clear:

How dare you?

How dare you question those in power?

How dare you scrutinize the beloved and timeless status quo?

How dare you think that you can live your life your way?

Who do you think you are?

How dare you presume to know what’s best for you? Better than peers, teachers, supervisors, institutions, media, governments, and other entities of the ruling authority?

How dare you think that you know more about yourself than we do?

We’re the experts! Not you!

We have the degrees and credentials! Not you!

Oh, the nerve!

The audacity!

The chutzpah!

How dare we?

Oh, yes! People like us get those subliminal messages every day. And when we see that it’s all to their benefit and not ours, we’re not afraid to give the rule-makers a proverbial middle finger. We may not come out and say it, but we show it in our calm and quiet disobedience and refusal to go along. We do it by simply continuing to live our lives the way we want and in a way that gives us advantages.

Bullies hate us because we don’t walk lightly. We’re not afraid to make waves. We’re willing to rock the boat if we don’t like something. We don’t mind going against the grain if we suspect that “the rules” might harm us. Why? Because we cherish freedom, autonomy, and self-determination. And we’ll die before we give them up.

Only we can possibly know what’s best for us and no one else. Only we can determine what makes us happy and what will make our lives better. Only we can choose our individual destinies. Only we can define our individual inner realities. Nobody else in the entire world is privy to these things.

With knowledge comes empowerment.

The Body Language of Bullies: Dominance, Superiority, and Hostility

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

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

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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?”

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. They may also stand in the middle of a crowd or center of a room.

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!

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.

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.

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!

Are They Laughing with You or At You?

bully laughing at you

Many targets are abused for so long that they simply lose trust in people and withdraw from everyone. And in social situations, many targets mistakenly assume that those they’re with are laughing at them when they’re really laughing with them. And this can cause a rift between the target and a person who’s a mean-meaning friend.

So, how can you tell the difference?

Here’s how:

1. Laughing with you: Eye contact. The person is looking at you and interacting with you while laughing.

Laughing at you: Lack of eye contact. The person is looking around at everyone else but you while laughing.

2. Laughing with you: The person doesn’t hold the laughter in. Instead, the laughter happens automatically and spontaneously.

Laughing at you: The laugher usually pauses first. And they don’t laugh out loud but only snicker.

laughing with you

3. Laughing with you: How does the person treat you once the laughter is over? They’re generally good to you and they enjoy being around you.

Laughing at you: The person treats you with contempt and they won’t hang around. They may even make a snide remark to you on their way out to go laugh at you behind your back.

And it depends on context.

4. Laughing with you: The laughter is deep and the person’s natural laugh.

Laughing at you: There’s “mocking laughter”, where the person imitates your laugh. The person isn’t laughing because you’ve done anything wrong or stupid, or because there’s anything wrong with you. They’re laughing at you to bring you down and boost their own social status or to feel better about themselves.

bullies laughing gossip rumors lies talk

5. Laughing with you: The person generally has good feelings toward you and is having fun or being playful.

Laughing at you: The person has a hostile and hurtful attitude toward you. They’re enjoying your pain, humiliation or weakness.

The sooner you recognize the differences, the sooner you’ll avoid the wrong people and the better relationships you’ll have with the people who truly love and care about you. And ultimately, the better you’ll feel!

Non-Verbal Ways Bullies Violate Their 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 victim’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 victim’s notebook, purse off of the victim’s 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!

Nonverbal Language of Bullying from Head to Toe (Part 2)

Female Track Competitors Glaring at Each Other

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 the hips, thumbs forward).

This makes the bully appear bigger and more powerful. This is 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, but 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.

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Note that victims will also cross their arms in intimidation when confronted by a bully. However, the difference is that 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, return the sentiment. 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, 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!

Nonverbal Language of Bullying From Head to Toe

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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.

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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. 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.

bullying

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.

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.

(To be continued in Part 2)

Always Mirror the Bully to Disarm and Intimidate Her Into Leaving You Alone

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If a bully cuts their eyes at you, return the gesture. If she tries to stare you down, never look away because she will only take that as fear and from then on, you’ll be her new source of power. Always glare back without blinking and stand with your feet apart and arms akimbo to take up some space. This is known as a “power pose”.

You may have to stand that way and stare for a while if she sees your response as a challenge, but if you hold your position long enough, she’ll finally get tired and move on.

Understand that any time a person uses this type of body language toward you without your provoking them, they are clearly saying that they’re superior to you and attempting to dominate you. So always, always reciprocate any dirty looks and dominate or intimidating body language. Assert your power this way, and soon, the bully will get the message that you’re confident, fearless and not one she should mess with.

prove them wrong

It’s not what you say. It’s what you do. Nonverbal communication is over eighty percent of communication. Talk is cheap, and if your words don’t match your body language, bullies will pick up on it, and they will eat you alive!

If you’re the timid type, there are plenty of books you can read to learn confident body language and power pose. Once you read, practice and learn what nonverbal cues convey power, you must practice those poses until they become comfortable to you.

Remember that bullies always target someone they perceive to be unconfident, timid, and insecure because that person is least likely to fight back. To look confident, fearless and secure, practice open body language.

Stand with your feet apart and arms uncrossed (crossed arms are closed body language and make you look insecure and untrustworthy). When a bully confronts you, never look down or away. Always look the bully in the eye, and she will see that you aren’t afraid and likely move on to someone else.

The more you know, the better you protect yourself