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Five Speaking Positions


Techniques > Using Body Language > Satir's Five Positions

Placater | Blamer | Computer | Distracter | Leveler | See also


These are body language positions that convey the emotions of Virginia Satir's Stress Responders and are particularly useful for understanding people who are speaking. They may be used not just to express stress but also in talking with others to elicit particular responses.

1. Placater

This conveys a request for them to stay calm and may be used in such situations as giving them bad news or asking them for something. It says 'please don't be upset or take offense'.

Body position

  • Palms facing up in supplication.
  • Body facing directly towards others, with shoulders and hips level and heels below the shoulders so the legs are slightly apart, with the feet facing forward. Feet and whole body facing forward.
  • Head vertical or slightly tilted with eyebrows slightly raised as a question or raised only in the middle as in pleading.

2. Blamer

The blamer points out problems or issues that the other person has. It says 'you're in trouble'. Maybe it is from you, but often it can be from other situations or people.

Body position

  • Body square on and leaning forward slightly.
  • Finger on one hand raised. Pointing directly at them for strong effect (this is an attack) or at the ceiling (this is a warning of attack).
  • Head slightly down with eyebrows lowered slightly.

3. Computer

The computer is thinking or evaluating, often held back in a reserved or protective way. It says 'I am considering carefully what you say'. It is useful when someone questions you. It sets the frame as logical and considering.

Body position

  • Body square on, though possibly also back a little, possibly resting on rear leg.
  • Arms often crossed, possibly with with one supporting the other, which is under the chin (propping up head whilst thinking).
  • Head level with eyebrows slightly in (thinking).

4. Distracter

This sets the mood as humorous and fun-seeking. It is useful for distracting from difficult situations.

Body language

  • Body at various angles, uneven.
  • Smiling, possibly wryly and with one eyebrow raised (if you can do this!).

5. Leveller

The Leveler position conveys credibility, honesty. It says 'I am comfortable and relaxed because I have nothing to hide. This is a typical speaking position.

Body position

  • Palms facing downward, fingers out flat, as if resting on a table, slightly wider than the body.
  • Body facing directly towards others, with shoulders and hips level and heels below the shoulders so the legs are slightly apart, with the feet facing forward. Feet and whole body facing forward.
  • Head vertical, with relaxed face and even eyebrows.

See also

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