When I write tips for keeping safe when you’re walking, I often say that you should walk with confidence, but what exactly does that mean? How does the way that you walk stop people from singling you out as being weak and vulnerable?
People read other people without even really thinking as our body language and the way that we walk can give a lot of information away as to the kind of person we are.
A criminal is looking for someone they perceive as being an easy target and they can make their decision based on the confidence we show as we walk, but how does someone walk with confidence?
1. Watch Your Step
The length of the steps that you take can say a lot about your confidence level. If you take small steps and have your head lowered, you will look like you’re scurrying. It will make you look like you just want to get from point A to point B unnoticed. Walking like this is known as the ‘keeping out of trouble’ walk and it will in no way make you seem confident.
On the other side of it, if you take steps that are too long, you make yourself look like you are striding. While this may not necessarily be a bad thing, it can come off as being aggressive and aggressiveness is not confidence.
What you need to do is find some middle ground when you walk. You need to aim for a relaxed yet purposeful walk. Move at an even pace and take even steps. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your back straight.
Also, unless you are out doing some exercise, try to avoid any running such as to make the bus in time. There will be another bus along to catch. A criminal can use this to their advantage. If you are in a rush to get somewhere, your mind is focused on that and not your surroundings.
2. Keep Your Head Up
A big show of weakness when someone walks is how they hold their head. Looking down at the ground as you walk makes you look like exactly that, weak.
As you walk, keep your head up and look either straight forward or slightly higher. ‘Hanging your head’ is a universal sign of shame so keep that chin up. Keeping your head up does the very opposite.
3. Make Eye Contact
You need to make it seen that you are completely aware of every person around you. Don’t walk down the street staring at people but make it a habit to make brief eye contact with the people who you pass.
A weak person will often go out of their way to avoid making eye contact with other people.
Confident people acknowledge the presence of others. This shows any potential criminal that you have seen them and if needed, could give a description of them to the police.
4. Shoulders Back, Chest Out
Ever heard of the pencil trick? You can use this to test out whether or not you hunch your shoulders. Grab two pencils and hold one in each fist with your arms by your sides, stand as you normally would. Which way are the pencils pointing? If you are stood correctly, the pencils should point straight forwards.
If you are slightly hunched over, the pencils will point any way other than straight forward. This stance also makes you look weak so keep those shoulders back and put that chest out. If you need help in retraining your body to walk this way, do some wall angel exercises. I am sure you know what ‘snow angels’ are. Well, these are exactly the same but against a wall.
- Stand with your back to a wall
- Put your hands down by your sides, touching the wall with your fingertips
- Try to raise your arms above your head WITHOUT letting your fingers, head, back, or butt leave the wall.
5. Keep Your Hands Out of Your Pockets
If you walk with your hands in your pockets, this needs to stop. Walking this way will also hunch your shoulders which as we have already seen, is not the right way to show confidence. You could pass all the other steps but if you keep your hands in your pockets you are going to look weak and let yourself down.
Keeping your hands visible at all times also makes you appear to be ready for action. If somebody wanted to try to catch you off-guard, you could quickly raise your hands to defend yourself.
The points shown here may seem small and insignificant but together, they all add up to help build and show confidence and not weakness. If you are not willing to put in the practice, you are not willing to keep yourself safe. Once you get started, you will find that it really doesn’t take too much effort.