Defensive body language

Defensive body language

When a person is feeling threatened in some ways, they will take defensive body postures.
Defending from attack

The basic defensive body language has a primitive basis and assumes that the other person will physically attack, even when this is highly unlikely.
Covering vital organs and points of vulnerability

In physical defense, the defensive person will automatically tend to cover those parts of the body that could damaged by an attack.

The chin is held down, covering the neck. The groin is protected with knees together, crossed legs or covering with hands. The arms may be held across the chest or face.
Fending off

Arms may be held out to fend off attacker, possibly straight out or curved to deflect incoming attacks.
Using a barrier

Any physical object may be placed held in front of the person to act as a literal or figurative barrier. This can be a small as a pen or as large as a table. Straddling a reversed chair makes some people comfortable in conversation as they look relaxed whilst feeling defensive.

Barriers can also protect the other person and if I am powerful, I may use a simple barrier to make you feel less defensive. It also means I control the barrier.
Becoming small

One way of defending against attack is to reduce the size of the target. People may thus huddle into a smaller position, keeping their arms and legs in.

Another primitive response is to tense up, making the muscles harder in order to withstand a physical attack.

Rigidity also freezes the body, possibly avoiding movements being noticed or being interpreted as preparing for attack.
Seeking escape

Flicking the eyes from side to side shows that the person is looking for a way out.
Pre-empting attack
Giving in

Pre-empting the attack, the defensive person may reduce the, generally using submissive body language, avoiding looking at the other person, keeping the head down and possibly crouching into a lower body position.
Attacking first

Aggressive body language may also appear, as the person uses 'attack as the best form of defense'. The body may thus be erect, thrust forward and with attacking movements.

Where attack and defense both appear together, there may be conflicting signs appearing together. Thus the upper body may exhibit aggression whilst the legs are twisted together.



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