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Don’t move! As you’re reading this, pay attention to your posture. Where are your shoulders? Are they down and back or are they up by your ears and forward? What about your back? Are you hunched a bit or are you allowing for the natural curves of your cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral spines? What about your head? Is you chin up and head back or is your chin down and head forward?
Chances are if you’re like most humans, your posture may put you at risk for becoming the target of nurse bullying.
Why does posture matter?
If you study the science behind body language, you will notice that certain postures and non-verbal behaviors communicate messages to others. For example, if you cross your arms over your chest, this may indicate disagreement or defensiveness (or you just might be cold!); avoiding eye contact and curving your shoulders inward may indicate shyness and lack of confidence; turning your body away from someone may indicate lack of interest, etc.
Nurses who find themselves targets of nurse bullying can use body language science like a shield against the bullies.
When bullies are selecting their targets, they look for someone who appears to lack confidence; who “looks” shy based on their body language. Why? Because bullies think they’ll make easy targets – that they won’t challenge them. Bullies therefore, look for nurses who display the victim’s stance:
Victim stance (THE EEYORE STANCE)
chin down and shoulders down, eyes averted, hold arms close against body, small hesitant steps.
Knowing this, you can start paying attention to YOUR body language and choose a posture that communicates a message of “don’t mess with me. I’m not an easy target!!” If you are concerned about becoming a target or are currently being tortured by a bully, start displaying the power stance:
Power stance (the wonder woman stance)
chin up, eyes looking straight ahead, arms and shoulders open, full determined steps.
Using the power stance sends a message to others that you are confident, sure of yourself and NOT an easy target. Using the power stance can even help you to feel more confident in every aspect of your life if you use this stance over time.
It’s sad that we have to spend any energy finding weapons to use against bullies. But, until they no longer exist, we have to do everything we can to protect ourselves. We all deserve to work in a nurturing and supportive environment – free from the bullies!!!
Thanks so much for reading. Would love your comments about body language and perhaps how you’ve used it in your world.
Take care and stay connected!
For more great tips, make sure you “like” me on Facebook,”follow” me on Twitter and YouTube and subscribe to my blog. Also, check out my new book on nurse-to-nurse bullying and my new eBook titled, Survive and Thrive: A guide helping new nurses succeed!  

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  1. This is something I will try. At 5' 0" and 100# I have always been an easy target. Add in that I am introverted and wow super easy target. Thank you for reminding me about body language and how to use it mysrlf verses assessing pts.

    1. Yes! Stand tall, shoulders back, look people in the eye. Just because you’re small shouldn’t make you an easy target!

  2. thanks so much for your comments. Yes!! It's about appearance. You want to look like you're not going to be an easy target. This power stance can also help you in almost every aspect of your life. Big or small…demonstrate your power!


  3. Great article. If I could just add a couple more points…no matter how discombobulating the bullying, totally and utterly believe that you have a right to be treated fairly and with respect. And if you can rustle up the courage to name the behaviour…eg "I don't appreciate being bullied…" There is a hospital in Australia where there is a colour code for a bully!

  4. Hi Char
    Thanks so much for adding to my post! You are so right. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect – no matter what. In my book on nurse bullying, I specifically talk about tapping into your moral courage muscles and about naming the behavior. So glad you are recommending the same.

    Bullying is pervasive, destructive and exists in every industry. However, bullying just feels more perverse in an industry dedicated to caring and compassion!

    Warmest regards

  5. I am also small of stature. I have found this advice to be not only helpful, but it carries with it an element of surprise which levels the playing field, opening the door for two-sided communication.

  6. Though difficult for many "love yourself". Take time to identify the things you have done that make you proud. You do not have to be self-centered or egotistical, you can even remain humble, but you have done many good things in your life and you deserve to recognize these in yourself. If you do not like and love yourself why should anyone else?

  7. Thanks Elaine. Many of us don't feel comfortable with compliments, "tooting our own horns" or public praise. However, as you stated so well, you can be humble but should believe in yourself!!

    We need to be kind to others but it first starts with being kind to ourselves :-).

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.
    Warm regards

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