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Strong Body Language: How to avoid looking like a prey

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Justin Ames on How to retire at 30

The best way to avoid being the victim of a fight or violent theft is to not look like an easy target from the start. Career criminals rarely pick a person completely at random. Instead they are hunting like a predator on the Serengeti. They will watch for body language of potentially easy targets such as a person not paying attention to their surroundings, slump shoulders, crossed arms, or hands in pockets. A combination of these gestures will tell a person watching you may be  a passive and easy target.

Tips like these may be obvious:

  • Stay alert and continually look at your surroundings.
  • When doing the above look at things intently but not like a gawking tourist
  • Stand straight and walk tall
  • Square your shoulders

Here are a few you may not know:

  • Put your hands on your hips with elbows pointed out. This is a nonverbal tactic to make yourself look bigger. It will give you the appearance of being more in charge.
  • Don’t cross your arms with thumbs tucked in. Depending on your other non verbal ques this can be a submissive or insecure gesture. Coupling crossed arms, thumbs out with a tall slightly leaned back stance (think secret service style) will be more defensive but not submissive. In general you want to make yourself look more confident and authoritative.
  • Avoid staring at the ground or lowering your eyes when people approach. You don’t want to stare at people so long that they think you are rude but keep tabs on who is around you. If some one meets your eyes give a slight nod and look away.

When you think about body language it should be with an evolution mindset. Many of our universal nonverbal gestures are innate and evolved from our primal ancestors. With this in mind avoid the passive gestures that may you look like easy pickings.


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