Bullying Body Language 11 Bullying Body Language Cues That Red Flag Someone As A Bully Before They Even Open Their Mouth

Bullying Body Language
11 Bullying Body Language Cues That Red Flag Someone As A Bully
Before They Even Open Their Mouth

We talk about bulling statements, but what are the nonverbal cues that they may be “bullying.” Overall you see tightening of muscles, forward movement, and expansive movement or sounds.

Here are specific cues of bulling and aggression:

Let’s start with the top of the body and move down to the feet.

1. The Head Jut -The head juts forward. It is one of the “I can take you, I dare you to go against me moves.”  The chin moves first and may go upward in defiance and then the head goes forward. There may be one jut or a repeated boxing ring head dance motions.

2. The Head Butt- The chin goes down, the top of the head moves forward like a football player head butt move. It may be a single motion but it may be repeated in a taunting way.

3. Teeth Barring- Barring the teeth lifting the upper lip and pushing the teeth forward so that the upper and lower teeth show. This is attack body language. It’s a signal that the person could bite you and that he has the big bad wolf teeth to do so.

Tension in the mouth and jaw and overall tightening of the lips clenching of the teeth typically signal tension. That tension can be motivated by fear or anger.

4. Mouth Fist- Holding the mouth tightly shut and pulling the lips tightly back and downwards and the head going forward and a glare in the eyes, make the mouth fist fearful to others. I call this a mouth fist because when somebody uses it, they typically want to bring their hand into a fist and propel it forward and they may use it in combination with fisted hands. If the person is feeling fear rather than intending to be fearsome you will see quivering or downward gazing or tearful eyes afraid. The lips are actually protecting the teeth in this mouth cue.

5. Chest Bump or Chest Pump- In this bump, there is a springing your chest out, up and forward to pretend or fully ram another person’s chest.  In the Chest pump the person’s chest seems to pump up with air like a Rooster and is held up and out and forward.   

Moving the arms and hands away from the body may be a signal of the desire to fight or threaten.

6. Weapon Gestures- Clinched fists are obvious weapons, but there are also symbolic weapon gestures such as Pointing, Jabbing, and Stabbing, Slicing the hand through the air in sword like motions, striking out and or forward in stop or pushing motions.

7. Object Aggression- Holding and motioning with an object, throwing an object, or hitting or kicking an object. If you see these cues, I recommend you leave the area as soon as you safely can.

8. Cowboy Stance- Bringing the legs apart further than 14 to 16 inches apart combined with hands on the hips gives a “John Wayne cowboy stance” showing ready to fight pose. This human Silhouette is read by the brain as danger and this expanded feet and sharp angled elbows out motion is threatening.

Enlarging the stance or taking up more space are also signs of aggression.

9. Space Invasion - Stepping or walking forward or even sideways pacing movements are all ways of taking up and invading space.

10. Prey Circling – Circling the person you are speaking to or coming up in their space. Real threat of attack occurs when inside their intimate zone of space which is getting closer than 12 inches from them.
11. Vocal Intimidation – Raising the volume of the voice, lowering the voice, speeding up or slowing down, punching certain words or growling, yelling and making your voice significantly louder than the other person or people that you are with.  Some people do this simply to command attention or get a turn to talk but to do it over and over again is a bullying paralanguage behavior.

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at www.PattiWood.net. Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at www.snapfirstimpressions.com. Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at http://youtube.com/user/bodylanguageexpert.