There have been some great follow-up discussions around my last post. One of them highlighted a common and critical knowledge gap: someone looks at an interaction between two people, spots what might be inappropriate or creepy behaviour, but can’t tell if the target is distressed or okay with what’s happening. This is especially challenging if it looks like the people involved are friends or partners.
This quick video introduces some basic tools for spotting if someone is uncomfortable in a social interaction and trying to hide it. We look at unconscious body language cues and distance-management strategies that are very hard to fake, and relatively easy to spot from outside the conversation. We also talk about low-risk intervention strategies.
If you often find yourself surprised to discover that someone has made your friends or colleagues uncomfortable, or if you’d like to start making your community safer, but aren’t sure how to identify problems, this is a good starting point.
This video is by no means comprehensive, and body language can vary a lot from person to person. Start with the few tools and strategies you see here and then start doing your own research. This might include talking to people in your trusted circles about how they experience social discomfort; taking a self defense or bystander intervention course; reading a book or two on body language; or just practicing your people-watching.