Tag Archive for Escape Routes

Summary – Chapter 9

In this chapter we covered defensive and aggressive body language. We found that double arm hug or arm crossing, partial arm crossing, arm gripping, fists and arm clenching, stiff or curved arms, or even cufflinks can be used to signal defensiveness. We learned that objects are used to shield the insecure by affording fewer angles of attack which is the case when we lean against a wall or bar top, hold a drink near our face or against our chest, or hide behind a podium whilst presenting. We discovered that headphones can be great tools for women who don’t want to be bothered, how pens, books, or newspapers indicate division between people and how conversations can be ended or avoided simply by raising a book. We found that other cues such as head bows, looking up to the side or through the forehead, avoiding eye contact, seeking escape routes with darting eyes, or reduce body size among others, show defensiveness.

On the other hand, we cut through defensiveness to study aggression which can include the in-your-face posture characterized by the hands on hips, feet together at attention, leaning forward with the head and chin up or out and exposed. We also saw that an aggressive person might get red in the face, cross or drop their arms to the side and clench their fists, finger point, become tense overall, clamp their jaw, tighten their lips, frown and lower their eyebrows. We learned that a stare lasting ten seconds or longer invokes anxiety and discomfort in subordinates in the ‘unblinking eyes’, and that overstepping boundaries can lead to conflict.

Cues To Indicate Defense

She protects her mid-section with a fig leaf posture.

She protects her mid-section with a fig leaf posture.

When children get scolded by parents they adopt very specific postures. They will bow their head, avoid eye contact by looking up or to the side, and will hunch over making their bodies seem even smaller. Reducing body size is a mechanism that turns off the aggression emotion in the mind of a potential aggressor. As adults, we will adopt similar postures in addition to covering those areas we feel are most likely to be attacked or are the most vulnerable. Our heads will come back and away if aggression is strong, effectively putting distance between us and our attacker. We may also drop our chins to protect us from a blow that might knock us out cold.

Fear or uncertainty which roughly falls into a defensive strategy was covered previously and happens by crossing one ankle around the other. A variation on this is a clenched fist or tightly gripping the arms of a chair which can indicate aggression and restraint. If we feel that an attack is imminent our bodies may become tense or “wired” in effort to become ready to withstand an attack, or mount a counter attack if necessary. We may also collapse downward to cover our throats if we think a swing is nearing and when an attack commences, we cover our face and cower. If we think we can win or when escape is impossible, we draw our fists up and usually swing randomly. Our knees will also come together to protect our groin and our arms brought inward to the center of our body to protect other vital areas. The eyes might also be flicked from side to side in effort to locate possible escape routes.