The Cornered Cat
Wonder Woman

One thing I’ve been studying lately: body language. Since¬† I don’t have a lot of natural aptitude for reading people, I’ve had to study and work hard to understand the nonverbal signals people send. The way this type of communication works fascinates me, and it’s important too, since the core of my job is communication with students. For all these reasons, when my friend Marc MacYoung pointed me to this TED Talk, I dropped everything to watch it.

I explained why I was interested in that video, but are you wondering why I asked you to watch it? It’s because our body language is a key aspect of avoiding violent crime; or, more precisely, it’s a key aspect of violent criminals avoiding us.

Successful criminals have mastered the art of choosing compliant victims.¬† They do this by watching the non-verbal signals people send. Is that potential victim fearful, aware, distracted, alert, clueless, confident…? All of those possibilities exist within every single one of us, every minute of every day.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you deliberately send dominance or power signals when you’re accosted. Nope. I’m suggesting that you start your day with the exercise the video suggests, and refresh it in private whenever you’re feeling unsure of yourself. As the lecturer says, it’s a small life hack that can help your life unfold in some amazing and unexpected ways. As you become more certain of yourself, more confident in your place in the world, your improved confidence can also help criminals make informed choices about who not to attack.

Plus, we now have an answer to the age-old question: “Why does Wonder Woman stand like that?”

4 Responses to Wonder Woman

  1. A Girl says:

    This is 100% true. When I was full of guilt and shame and fear and totally lost, I only knew 2 things…I can’t live like this and my kids need a mommy, so I literally faked it everyday. I got up, showered, smiled and played with my kids and then would cry at night, but eventually I got up, showered, played with my kids and didn’t cry. And then one day I was the happy person I was before I was mugged. I wasn’t faking it anymore.

    I was weak and I needed to be strong, so I faked it. I showed up to classes I was terrified to take, I acted confidently, I said I was things I didn’t feel until one day I not only felt them, I was them.

    It is a lot like practice makes perfect, but it is more than that because some can practice firearms training or golf, of study like mad and be quite good, but if they don’t believe it, it has little benefit to them. They can be at the top of their field and still feel worthless, empty, lost, broken. It’s the faking it until you make it, until you believe it that is key.

    • telpinaro says:

      That’s how I got through the military! I’m not, and don’t enjoy being, a “leader.” So for five years or so I had to pretend I was. Now I do the same thing again… pretending to be confident and happy for my son’s sake while my husband is deployed.

      Good for you for making it through! I couldn’t imagine having to deal with that nightmare.

  2. larryarnold says:

    Paying attention to these signals can also help read others. This is particulary important to instructors, as it helps evaluate how students are processing information. In particular, on the firing line, it can help you find a student that needs support before the need leads to a safety violation.

    In a verbal confrontation it can help read the other person and assist in deescalating the situation, or at least avoiding escalation to the point where use of force is necessary. Note that while professional criminals may be adept at putting on a front, other people you get crosswise with (say the other driver in a fenderbender) are often easier to read.

  3. jfsgrl says:

    So appropriate for any situation. Love this video and the message!

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