Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Eye Contact - Non-verbal Communication, A Tool In Stopping Bullies

This past week I was presenting my Core Democratic Values program at a school in Detroit, MI. There is a part in the program where I pick twelve students to help me to demonstrate the first three articles of the Constitution. The last young lady I asked up was sitting in the middle of the second row. She was so excited that I picked her she jumped up from her seat. As she was trying to walk over to the center aisle three boys grabbed her pantleg and tried to trip her. She caught her balance and gave all
three of those boys a stare that would scare a bear. The boys giggling faces quickly turned to fear. They bowed their headsdown as if they were being scold by the principal.

The best thing we can teach our students and children is that
we don't have to say anything to get the point across. In a great book entitled Bully-Proofing Your School the authors talk about "getting the meaning without words" (P.67) It's all about body language.
If we are giving the bully firm eye contact we can effectively send out a non-verbal message that clearly means "KNOCK IT OFF!".

"Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power" Seneca

I am sure you have held a conversation with another person who
is unable to look you in the eyes when talking or listening to you. My wife and I were discussing this article and she mentioned how some people even close their eyes when they talk. Eye contact
demonstrates self-confidence and self-esteem. Dan Olweus author of Bullying at School and one of the Godfathers of anti-bullying issues writes," the typical victims are more anxious and insecure
than students in general." Eye contact in my opinion is one of the best ways to demonstrate security and self-control. It an easy non-violent assertive tools available to the victims of a
bully. As a professional speaker, I have been taught to give eye contact to my audience but not to exceed more than three to five seconds so they don't feel intimidated. Think about when you were
caught doing something you weren't supposed to be doing. Remember how your teacher or parent looked you directly in the eyes and how scary it was not knowing what she was going to do next.

"What lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do." Aristotle

How can you teach your child or students to use eye contact to
peacefully combat a bully problem or conflict situation? By giving them eye contact when talking or listening. By explaining and practicing with them till they feel comfortable implementing it and understand
how and when is the best time to use it.


1) Have two students sit face-to-face staring at one another. Make it a game by telling them that first person to move their eyes away or laughs at the other person looses the game.

2) Have a student face the class and you face them holding a pencil.
Move the pencil up and down, left and right and then to your nose so they are looking you in the eyes. When they look you in the eyes ask them some simple questions like: What is your name? What
do you like to do? Who is your hero?

If anyone has any other techniques they have used that have been successful please email it to me and I will share the information on our Blog:

Also we are thinking about putting together a classroom No Bully Club Membership. There would be one membership fee and cool educational items that can be distributed to the classroom. Let us know what you think.

For more information and strategies on how to reduce bullying and violence at schools and in the workplace visit our blog at: or our web site at

Michigan educational/motivational speaker and author Richard Paul and his Duck Sense programs mission is to present creative, entertaining and fun school shows and youth conference keynote speeches/teen workshops that promote self-esteem, acceptance, reduce conflict and help put an end to school violence.

His school assemblies, youth workshops, motivational educational books and CDs have one common thread which is to build character, stop the bullying, understand and respect diversity and offer up success skills to help end teasing and promote anti-violence in schools.

From his many articles, to his sought after fun, character advancement, motivational audio CD "Duck Sense" and his straightforward "Tackling Conflict Head On", chapter in a new nationally recognized book entitled "The Better Bottom Line", Richard shares the success tools and techniques to help promote a safer, friendlier, happier, productive environment.

Find out more about Richard Paul at

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