Help and Advice for the rapidly growing
Not all tall people are adults so we are keen to provide advice to tall children, teenagers, and their parents.
Below is the advice of our founder Phil Heinricy, but we still think they have a relevance in today`s society and hope they will help you in some small way in making some sense of how you deal with being tall at the different ages of your life.
Tall Children, Teenagers and Adults
Thankfully most tall people are so for genetic reasons. Some, however, will have been
affected by one of the medical conditions which are outlined in the medical section of this website. I shall not
discuss the details of those here, nor their specific effects on the tall child.
I suppose it’s as well to start with some general observations. First and foremost has to be
that the more that is made of a child’s height, whether positive or negative, the greater and
more long lasting the impact will be. Many adults influence a tall child’s life and the
individual attitudes of each of those adults, including the parents, will impact on the child.
Whether that impact is positive or negative depends on more factors than I can list here
without inducing total brain meltdown.
The old saying ‘Give me the boy until he is seven and I will give you the man’ is
uncomfortably true. If a child is made to feel that its height is in some way an undesirable
quality and an inconvenience that is the attitude it will learn and maintain for life. I have
known far too many examples of parental conditioning of this kind.
I have already said something similar many times in these pages I shall say it a few times
more, no doubt. It bears repetition because it is the most fundamental truth in the development
of any child, not just a tall child.
A woman told me how her parents always made a big thing of her height from an early
age not in a positive way. To make matters worse, it continued as a sort of family joke until
well into adulthood. It was not until she plucked up the courage to say ‘enough is enough’ that
her family finally realised the damage they had been doing and how hurtful they had been
over the years. The woman’s experiences within the TPC taught her that she was not the only
one to feel that way that it was not her fault. She learned that it was possible to overcome that
early conditioning, that it was alright to be tall and to be proud of it. Once she had learned the
new attitude it became easy for her to face her erstwhile tormentors to tell them the truth. The
new positive attitude she adopted carried over into other areas of her life too.
Another TPC member seemed rather stand-offish, her manner almost brusque, when I first
met her in hospitality during a television discussion show. Approachable she most certainly
wasn’t. It was a defence she had adopted in response to the unwelcome attention she had
become accustomed to attracting, courtesy of her height. She hadn’t been a member long had
yet to become involved with her local group. Over the following two or three years I watched
as she changed, revealing her true personality, a wonderfully kind and good humoured nature.
The only time I ever saw real aggression in her was in a go-kart race, when she wasn’t going
to let me pass, no matter how I tried. She eventually married another TPC member they now
have a daughter.
Further confirmation of the wonderful lady she is came out of the blue. It was a year or
two after I had stepped down from leading the TPC. I was doing some business with a couple
the subject of my height was raised. I answered their questions then the wife said: “We stayed
at a lovely B&B in Weston-super-Mare last year. The couple who ran it were really tall too.
They were so nice, wonderful people. They made us feel so welcome.”
I mentioned their names that of their daughter; you can guess the rest.
The road to self acceptance is not always an easy, nor a clear one; it can be long and
arduous. It is, however, a journey well worth making. The lessons learned along the way are
of benefit in all areas of life.
This is not going to be an intellectual discussion on child rearing, so I won’t pretend to be
the latest version of Dr Spock (he’s the one without the pointy ears). If you need hints, tips
and guidance on that subject, just watch a few episodes of Supernanny.
Up to the age of five it is more likely to be the parent who will have a problem dealing
with a child’s height. If the parents are not unusually tall themselves, there will be the natural
concern about whether everything is in order, whether the child is in some way ill. In some
cases, of course, they may be, but in the vast majority of cases it is not so. So why do
During infancy, a cheery district nurse declaring “You’ve got a right little monster here,”
or “She’s awfully big, we’ll have to keep an eye on that,” does little to ease the mind of a
shiny new parent. If that does happen, it’s worth keeping track of the child’s growth, by
plotting it on a growth chart. It will quickly become apparent whether the child is so far from
the expected pattern of growth that further investigation is merited.
Next comes that age that all parents enjoy and savour, but only ever as a memory: the
‘Terrible Twos’. That is the age at which a child begins to develop a sense of its own identity
and its ability to manipulate its environment.
In itself, the Terrible Twos is just one of those phases that all children and their parents
have to go through, but when your two year old is already the size of many a five year old,
their temper tantrums can attract unwelcome reactions from people who are unaware of the
child’s actual age.
At that stage, age misperception probably impacts more on the parents than it does the
child. They can be made to feel that it is they who are at fault, that something is horribly
wrong with their child, or it is in some way developing abnormally; nothing could be further
from the truth.
Survive that period and the child then faces nursery school the values and attitudes of
A mother told me how her three year old son was left to play on his own at nursery. The
carers had separated him from the other children of the same age. They were afraid that he
would hurt them, as he was so much bigger than they were. He was sent to play with the older
children, but they wanted nothing to do with him because he was still a baby in their eyes. So
the boy spent his days sitting alone, amusing himself.
“He looked so lonely and lost when I saw him,” his mother said. “It broke my heart to see
him like that.”
Parents have to be aware that situations like this can and do occur. To educate those
secondary carers, many of whom may hold a professional qualification, is not easy. No
professional likes to be told by a lay-person that they are mistaken in their practices and
beliefs; it both questions and undermines their authority. Tact, patience and understanding are
required. In the long term it is not only the child who will benefit, but all the future tall
children, as well as other children who do not conform to some perceived norm.
Conversely, adults who interact with the child in line with its apparent, rather than its
actual age, can help to speed the child’s development. They unwittingly provide the more
stimulating and challenging environment known to be conducive to improving IQ. This is
generally positive, but it can bring with it unforeseen difficulties.
Although intellectual development is accelerated, emotional development does not
necessarily keep pace. Should the two diverge significantly, the child may begin to experience
difficulties in social interaction with its intellectual peers, who may be two to three years
older than they are.
The idea of tall children being on average more intelligent than their peers is well
established. Apart from the influence of nutrition and health care, it is likely that the
expectations of others set standards to which the child feels it should aspire. By achieving and
living up to those standards its development is enhanced, with an obvious knock on effect on
the child’s IQ.
Parallels may be observed in both only children, who get more individual attention from
their parents in children born to older first time parents. In the latter case, the parents are more
mature and at peace with themselves. They may have already achieved many of the goals they
had set for themselves are therefore more inclined and more able to spend quality time with
their child. It is not uncommon to find that only or first born children born to older parents
learn to read well ahead of their peers. Eldest children usually have a higher IQ than their
younger siblings. For a while at least they were, of course, only children, which may go some
way to explaining this phenomenon.
In school a whole new set of perceptions come into play. It is common for teachers to
expect more from a tall child, based on nothing more that its physical size. He may be
expected to show greater maturity to accept more responsibility than his peers. “You’re a big
boy, you should know better,” is an observation usually based on nothing more than height.
On the other hand, many tall people report that as children they were often the first to be
accused of misbehaviour. “I stood out a head above the rest of the class, so I usually got the
blame for everything,” said one.
Bullying occurs in all schools, whether they admit to it or not. Any child who is notably
different is a target. Wearing glasses, having ginger hair, being a ‘swot’ or unusually tall is all
it takes to attract the bully’s attention. Any child with a passive and non-confrontational
nature is an obvious target. How or whether the school deals with bullying effectively is a
A brief word of warning about literature available on bullying: some of it makes reference
to the aggressor usually being the taller child. To a degree there is some truth in this, but if the
child is exceptionally tall it is far more likely to be the victim.
Difficulties can occur as the tall child approaches teenage, especially if it has favoured
socialising with others who are a year or two older. Physical development is likely to leave
the tall teenager performing at a lower level in physical activities, such as informal games of
football and the like. With the onset on puberty, priorities within the group also change
dramatically. Whilst previously members of the opposite sex held no particular appeal,
suddenly they become extremely interesting indeed. The tall child, although still on a par with
its intellectual peers, suddenly finds itself completely divorced from their new principal
interest. It is, after all, still a year or more away from undergoing the hormonal changes that
trigger that sudden shift in focus.
Suddenly the tall child finds itself on the fringes or even completely excluded from the
group that was previously one of its social centres. Rejoining those who are at the same level
of physiological and emotional development is not always a satisfactory option, as the
intellectual gap may be difficult to bridge.
I know that in my case I felt extremely isolated for a couple of years, until time and
biology sorted out the dilemma.
Bullying may also become more of an issue in teenage. Roles within any group tend to
polarise and become more distinct as the hormonal changes of puberty impact upon
established group dynamics. Alpha males and females emerge within the group and both are
likely to enforce and defend their new positions, either physically or psychologically.
No matter how much we like to kid ourselves that, as humans, we are in some way
separate from and superior to the rest of the animal kingdom, we are subject to the same
impulses as any group of primates. Fundamentally, we are still animals, mammals, primates.
Whilst we have the intellectual capacity to modify some of our behaviour patterns, we do not
have the ability to override or to eliminate them completely. At times of great stress, such as
during the hormonal upheaval of puberty, more basic instinctual behaviour patterns do
Tall teenagers fall into a number of distinct groups. Those who are athletically built star of
the sports team, are just the kind of future high earner that Messrs P.P. & S. identified in their
research (writing that paragraph wasn’t a waste of time after all; great!). The admiration of
their peers builds self-esteem and confidence, which serves them well both at school and later
Tall children who are not athletically gifted may find an outlet in other activities. This will
still afford them status within a particular group and, whilst it may not attract universal
admiration, does build confidence and an awareness of the ability to achieve.
Exceptionally tall teenagers are often gangly and uncoordinated. Their physical
development is out of kilter, as the body grows but the muscles fail to keep pace. Should some
form of recognition elude them, height will become their primary identifier. The nicknames
that all too often accompany that feature are rarely flattering.
Thankfully, attitudes appear to be changing among PE teachers. The old Sear’nt Major
breed is slowing making its way to that great parade ground in the sky, to be replaced by a
more enlightened and aware generation. I have heard countless tales of PE teachers who were
far worse than any playground bully. Any child’s failure to perform was highlighted and
ridiculed. That included not only exceptionally tall children, but also the fat kid or the
scrawny little weakling who couldn’t climb the ropes, or execute even a simple vault over the
pommel horse. Once a teacher openly ridicules a child it becomes fair game for the bullies
too. After all, if the teacher does it then it must be ok.
The humiliation such children feel quickly carries over into other areas of school work.
Failure to achieve according to the expectations of other teachers can bring more unwelcome
attention. Exceptionally tall children suffer more than most, as their height leads to unrealistic
assumptions about their potential. Failure to live up to those expectations destroys selfconfidence.
Ironically, the child may well be performing better than others of the same age,
but because of unrealistic demands and expectations still feels like a failure. This process may
begin in childhood, or not until teenage. Whichever it is, the effects are likely to be long
Self-imposed isolation is a common response, leading to inhibited social development.
Discomfort in social situations, especially unfamiliar ones, is an understandable consequence.
Once learned in teenage, such behaviour becomes difficult to modify in adulthood. We now
have the reason why the ‘Tall Men Earn More’ idea falls apart above the 6ft 6in mark.
Within the TPC I met many members who initially felt uneasy in social situations, but
were unable to explain why. In most cases they put it down to self-consciousness about their
height. The more they talked about themselves and their past experiences the more apparent it
became that it went much deeper than that. Without having gained some form of recognition,
height became their principal identifier. Even though they were intelligent people, their lack
of self-confidence gave them a lesser sense of self worth.
Here is yet another example of the cause and effect question: as teenagers did they lack
the self-confidence to strive for some form of recognition, or did the lack of recognition result
in lack of self-confidence?
Of course, nothing is ever that simple the issue can become complicated by failure to
accurately identify the problem. A tall teenager may express overt dissatisfaction with his
stature claim it to be the reason for everything that he feels to be wrong with his life. Being
such an obvious feature, a parent may truly believe that it has to be what lies at the root of the
obvious difficulties the teenager is experiencing what is putting such a strain on their
relationship. They will direct their efforts to solving the ‘problem’ for their offspring,
blissfully unaware that in doing so they are actually reinforcing the negative perceptions
which began as nothing more than a convenient excuse.
I shall never forget the call from a concerned mother who told me all about the problems
she was having with her 6ft 4in 15 year old son.
“It’s his height,” she told me. “He hates being so tall and it’s affecting his whole life.”
I listened as she told me about his sullen and uncommunicative behaviour, his moodiness
about the grumpy young man he had become since beginning the latest growth spurt. He
hated being so much taller than all of his friends, he hated being different. She told me of the
regular arguments they had, the trouble he was in at school how he would hide away in his
room for hours on end, emerging only to wordlessly raid the fridge, accompanied by the odd
Now, I realise that many of you are probably way ahead, but hang on in there.
I listened as this worried mother unburdened herself to the first person she had found who
was willing to listen without being judgemental, someone who was himself tall and almost
certainly understood what her son was feeling. I could hear the tension falling away as she let
go of everything that had been troubling her. It made her feel better she thanked me for my
patience and understanding.
“May I ask you a question,” I said?
“Of course,” she replied.
“What were you like as a teenager?”
“Oh my god,” she said. “I was horrible. I am still apologising to my mother to this day for
ever having been a teenager.”
She began to tell me about her own teenage, her own appalling behaviour, the arguments
with her mother, but then slowly petered out to total silence.
“Oh,” she said after a few seconds. “I’ve just realised. It’s got nothing to do with his
height, has it? He’s a teenager. He’s behaving like any boy his age. I was so worried, I just
didn’t think. I thought it had to be his height. It seemed so obvious.”
And there you have it: an individual’s height is so obvious, so unmissable, it is all too
easy to lay the blame for everything at its feet.
I have come to believe that height is often nothing more than a highly visible hook on
which to hang all of the excuses for a less than perfect life. Psychologists refer to this as
‘learned helplessness’. The real reason may not always be as clear, as easy to accept or to
confront. The poor self-image and low self-esteem some tall people have often has little, if
anything, to do with height. It is more often the people around the tall person who lie at the
root of the true cause. Their attitudes and behaviour are far more influential than the
individual’s height alone.
Height may be a symptom but rarely is it the real, nor the whole, problem.
Tall adults are, for the most part, nothing more than tall teenagers, but older. Actually, the
same probably applies to all adults. The attitudes we have developed by teenage tend to stay
with us for the rest of our lives. Of course, as adults we all look back at how different we were
as teenagers cringe at some of the things we got up to. But in truth, the underlying attitudes
were already in place, although often subjugated to peer pressure, or to a need to look cool
and to find acceptance.
For the tall adult, height can become a defence behind which to hide unwelcome truths, a
camouflage for experiences and memories they would rather not face. Unusually tall girls in
particular may find that age misperception can lead them into situations which they are
neither physically nor emotionally equipped to deal with. Such experiences may be so
traumatic that the after effects persist well into adult life may never be properly identified and
I once received a call from a consultant psychiatrist, asking for help. A 6ft 3in woman had
spent several months in his unit had made little progress. She put all her problems down to her
height wanted nothing more than to have height reduction surgery. She had convinced herself
that life was unlivable as an exceptionally tall woman; if only she were 5ft 11in, all her
problems would disappear.
The doctor was compelled to respect patient confidentiality, so we talked about height in
general examined some hypothetical possibilities. We concluded that the issue of height had
to be removed from the equation. He had already suggested that she make contact with the
TPC possibly attend a social event, but she was not willing to do either. However, she was not
averse to meeting another tall woman, probably in the hope that she could thereby confirm
everything she claimed to feel about her height.
I arranged for one of our members to visit. A 6ft 6in woman who held a responsible job
within her organisation, had an active social life had lived and studied in the USA, she also
made sure that she did not wear flat shoes for her visit.
A few weeks later the doctor called again, but this time to thank us for our help. At long
last he was making progress with his patient was optimistic for her future well-being. It had
taken just a couple of visits before she stopped focusing on her height. With that defence
removed she had been left nowhere to hide finally began to confront the real problem.
When childhood and teenage conditioning carries over into adulthood it will affect every
aspect of life. Yet it can be modified, or broken if you prefer. Either the person finds a niche
within which they can achieve the success that previously eluded them, or someone else
recognises their potential, helps them to believe in their own abilities offers encouragement to
break free from the shackles of past conditioning.
A good example is the 6ft 10in 21 year old man who had risen to the dizzy height of stores
manager in a small manufacturing company. He had started as a stores assistant and taken
over the top position upon the retirement of his immediate boss. The job included
responsibility for all stock purchase and control was certainly a notch above the kind of jobs
done by most of his friends.
He was a regular caller at TPC HQ, often calling for no more than a natter. I realised very
quickly that here was a man who had no idea of his potential. As far as he was concerned, he
had achieved as much as he was likely to could see nowhere else to go. I suggested he
consider a change of career.
He was a smart dresser who oozed confidence and bravado. Back then, it was largely an
act, but a role he played to near perfection. His personality was such that he found it easy to
talk with people to sidestep their usual obsession with his height. I was certain that he could
have a successful career in sales and management recommended that he look out for entry
level sales jobs with a large company.
He wasn’t sure, but I pointed out that he already dealt with a lot of salesmen in his
position as buyer for his company. “Is there anything special about them to make you think
you couldn’t do their job,” I asked him?
His answer made it perfectly clear that there wasn’t. It took a while, but he called me one
day to announce that he had an interview. His current employers were behind him all the way
wished him well. They were surprised only that it had taken him so long to make the move. I
wasn’t in the least surprised when he got the job.
In the months that followed I think I must have heard from him almost as much as his
manager did. Yes, I’m exaggerating, but not by much. Within a couple of years he moved on
to another company a more challenging environment. When we last met he was a regional
manager for a major white goods manufacturer, leading a team of several salesman
responsible for an area covering the North of England and the whole of Scotland. Since then
he has worked in Russia and Ireland for other companies and is now UK national sales
manager for his latest employer.
He paid me the greatest compliment at the 2003 anniversary when he said to a new
member: “I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for Phil.”
Sometimes all it takes is for someone you trust to show a little faith in you. I’m sure he
would have eventually made that initial break without my encouragement. All I did was to
help him to make the decision sooner rather than later.
Another was a 6ft 7in man in his forties. A quiet and passive man, he had been in the same
job as a lowly stock control clerk for many years. At the regular staff evaluations he was told
that promotion was not an option for him, as he did not exhibit the leadership skills of a
supervisor or manager. That was his employer’s loss. Had they seen him in the role he
adopted within the TPC I am sure they would have felt very differently. He was prominent in
his local group, arranging gatherings and organising outings, welcoming new members and
generally representing the Club in any way he could. When I scheduled the Club’s national
event in his area he provided invaluable support, locating venues and arming me with
whatever information he could to ensure that the Club got the best deals around.
His employers had become so accustomed to seeing him in the role he had occupied for so
long, they were incapable of acknowledging the changes in him as they happened. At the next
staff evaluation his confidence was such that he actively questioned the lack of promotion.
Again his manager trotted out the same old tired arguments, saying that he was doing a good
job where he was that a supervisory position would not suit him.
Whether he finally plucked up the courage to embark on a different career with a new
employer I do not know. The last I heard he was staying put, as he had built up too many
years of excellent pension rights to forsake them lightly. He was nearing fifty by then, future
security was important to him I can understand his caution. Even so, in other areas of his life
he became more assertive and adventurous. In dealing with his landlord he stood up for his
rights when previously he would have been more inclined to submit to the demands being
made. He found new energy for his hobbies. Previously they had been solitary pursuits, but he
sought out other people and groups with similar interests became actively involved with them.
If he had been encouraged more in teenage, his life may have turned out very differently.
Exceptionally tall people are few and far between. That’s why the TPC is the perfect
environment in which to lose that sense of isolation, of being the only one who knows what it
is like to deal with the day to day hassles of being very tall. Many members feel no need to
attend a social event are just happy to know that they aren’t the only tall person around; it’s
all the confirmation they need.
For some tall people a single positive encounter with another tall person is enough to
change their perception of themselves. I sometimes wonder about a young man I met when I
was in my mid-twenties. Conrad was 6ft 7in serving with the RAF, stationed at RAF
Credenhill, near Hereford. The camp has since become the headquarters of the SAS, one of
the army’s elite combat forces.
I was in a local pub with some friends. Most were sitting around a small table near the
door, while I sat at the bar chatting with the staff. The door opened, Conrad walked in
immediately attracted my friends’ attention. They called out to me: “Hey, Phil, you’ve got
I watched as Conrad, aware of being the focus of attention, hunched his shoulders as he
walked up to the bar. He hadn’t been standing particularly straight in the first place was trying
hard to disguise his height even more. As he stood next to me, waiting to be served, I looked
up at him and said: “You ought to stand up straight, mate. You’re doing your back no good at
He gave me a disdainful look. “It’s alright for you,” he said, “You don’t know what it’s
“Oh, I think I do,” I said stood up next to him.
For a moment he looked shocked then he too stood to his full height smiled. We chatted
for about half an hour he relaxed more and more as time went by. My friends and I moved on
to another of our regular haunts I never saw him again. I wonder whether he eventually saw
the TPC featured on television and, if he did, remembered our meeting all those years ago.
Whether it made a long term difference to him I shall never know, but I hope it helped.
The right words at the right time in teenage can make for a very different adult.
Actually, the right words at any time can trigger positive changes. Unfortunately, we
never know what words will trigger the change sometimes we will not even know of the
change for which we have been the catalyst. Think back to my experience with Sigrid: her
words changed my entire attitude to the opposite sex, yet she has absolutely no recollection of
Hold on to that thought as we launch headlong into the next (very short) chapter, which
originally appeared as an article in ‘6ft+’, the magazine of the Tall Persons Club.
It’s Only Words…
…or is it?
I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure whether
you realise that what you heard is not what I meant!
Read it again, because it does actually make sense.
Often it is all too easy to hear what is being said but to miss what is actually meant. As tall
people, we are subjected to more than our fair share of overt comments. Because of this we
are sometimes inclined to react inappropriately, be it towards the person making the comment
or, even worse, toward ourselves. For example, the ‘weather’ joke, or some variation on that
theme, is not necessarily a cheap crack at our expense, but is rather the end result of a
complex set of physiological and psychological reactions to an unfamiliar situation by the
There is no point in pretending that our mere physical presence does not have an effect on
those around us, especially if they are not accustomed to us. We are different, we do stand out
that is of enormous benefit, if we choose it to be.
I can hear the cries of “West Coast psychobabble” accompanied by eyes glazing over
already, but bear with me I shall attempt to explain.
First of all I want you to recall an occasion when you were watching a thriller or similar
film. Remember when something drastic and unexpected happened that made you jump. What
did you do? First, you almost jumped out of your skin, then took a sharp intake of breath.
Your heart rate leapt, but then your rational brain took over reminded you that it was just a
film that therefore no threat existed. You relaxed back into your seat, took a breath and gave a
chuckle or nervous laugh before admitting that you weren’t expecting that. You may have
even made a joke about it. Sound familiar?
What happens to some people when they unexpectedly encounter a tall person is not
dissimilar. No, we are not something out of a horror movie, but we can unintentionally jolt
someone’s comfort zone. Looking at the process involved, it might go something like this
please note that when the descriptions use the male gender, they apply equally to women.
Situation: A tall person walks into a room. An average height person reacts.
Reaction 1: Wow! I suddenly feel very small. This person has an imposing physical
presence could be a threat. I have to be ready to defend myself in case of attack. That’s silly.
This isn’t the jungle, it’s a meeting. I know. I’ll make a joke to show I’m not scared. Then I’ll
smile and show some teeth, just like submissive chimpanzees do, to show that they aren’t a
threat. That’ll do it. Here goes: “What’s the weather like….”
Reaction 2: Hey! That person is really tall. They have attracted all the attention in the
room. I can’t have that. I am the alpha male around here. This calls for action. I’ll just have to
make that person feel really small, to show everyone how clever and important I am. I’ll say
something clever. That will do it. “Hey! What’s the weather like…”
Reaction 3: Wow! Look at that person. They are tall, carry themselves well, look
confident really attractive. I have to get to know that person. How do I start a conversation? I
know nothing of their tastes in music, food or film. Politics and religion is far too risky to
start. I know! I’ll say something about the one thing we are both aware of: their height. That
should get things going. Then I can get to know them better. Who knows where that might
That covers some of the likely reactions, so what of the response a tall person might
Response A: Oh god, no! Someone’s made a joke about my height. Everyone’s looking. I
feel awful. I want to go home, to crawl into a deep hole to never go out ever again.
Response B: Someone’s made a joke. Oh well, it’s to be expected. It’s a normal reaction
it’s better to be noticed than to be ignored. I’ll come back with a good line, or just smile
benignly. Either way, I can show them that I’ve heard them all before. Stay composed. Show
you have dignity and self-confidence. Now let’s move the conversation to something less
Response C: I wish they’d think of a more original approach line, but I suppose they have
to start somewhere. Not bad though. Good looking, well dressed. Could be interesting. Accept
comment with good grace, change the subject. Get talking. I wonder how they like their eggs
Body language will tell you a lot about the nature of the initial reaction you can gauge
your response accordingly. Your own body language will usually determine how people will
react to you in the first place.
You are probably sick of hearing this by now, but it bears a repeat airing. If you adopt a
submissive or defensive posture to the world about you, it will treat you in line with the image
you project. The basic rules for a tall person are simple, as they are for everyone. Of course it
takes time to practice and to perfect the techniques that make the big difference, but
perseverance will pay dividends.
Clothes maketh the (wo)man, they say. If you have ever watched Trinny and Susannah on
the rampage you will already know the truth of that. A simple change of image and style can
make a huge difference to one’s confidence and presence.
Posture tells the world how you feel about you. Erect, confident posture says ‘I like me’
it’s difficult for someone to like anyone who doesn’t like themselves. If you act confidently,
you will be seen and treated as confident.
Slouching, huddled posture, with eyes fixed firmly on one’s toes says ‘I am not worthy –
please treat me like dirt’. Guess what? Convey that message people will happily oblige.
Now go back to the first sentence of this article something else may occur to you. The
words are true in many areas of our respective lives. But what could be easier in a discussion
than to stop and to recap, to agree or disagree point by point to make sure that what we are
saying is actually being understood; and if not, then why not?
Words are the means by which we communicate clearly with one another, at least that is
the theory. We take our language so for granted that we often fail to spot the hidden meanings
and messages our words may or may not convey. Even when the meaning seems to be clear,
the interpretation that we choose to place upon those words can make a huge difference to the
way that people see us and, more importantly, to the way that we see ourselves.
Above all, the message is:
No-one can make you feel bad about yourself without YOUR permission.
This article was inspired by the words of a Club member who told me that something I
had said to her had changed her entire attitude to the people around her thus their attitude
towards her had also changed dramatically. Now, I say a lot of stuff so had to ask her to
She told me that she’d been having a good moan to me about the oiks who couldn’t think
of anything better to say to her than to make a comment about her height. I pointed out that,
men being men, we are not overly imaginative when it comes to trying to start a conversation
with an attractive woman. The only thing we can think of is to state the blindingly obvious.
By cutting them dead with a sarcastic comment, as she had been, most immediately slunk off,
defeated and demoralised. Apparently, I suggested that she go a little easier on them at least
give them a chance to prove that they weren’t worthy of her time before she cut them dead.
That way, she wouldn’t waste time with total oiks, but would perhaps get to know some really
nice guys. She tried it, it worked.
There’s another point to this story. I have no recollection of the conversation we had, yet
what I said obviously had a positive effect on her and on her life.
We often have no idea of the effect and influence we can have on someone’s life with just
a few words. Whether that effect is positive or negative depends on the words we choose.
Remember, there is a world of difference between “My darling, when I look into your
eyes the hands of time just seem to stand still,” and “Honey, you’ve got a face that could stop
“It’s Only Words”, sang the Bee Gees. I beg to differ.
What Happened Next…
After this article appeared, I attended the Club’s anniversary celebrations. A woman said
to me – and I paraphrase: “I read your article thought it was a load of old twaddle (or words to
that effect). My friend read it too she thought there might be something in it. When we went
out that weekend, a guy came up to talk to me started with the usual comment about my
height. I was about to cut him dead when I remembered your article I thought I would at least
give it a try. You know what? He turned out to be a really nice guy, really sweet. He kept
apologising bought me drinks all night. I hate to admit it, but you were right.”
I rest my case.
Incidentally, I would like to thank the lady for telling me that story. It’s always good to
know that something you said or did helped someone else.
Here are some useful links with advice on being tall from our favourite tall blogger Angie K:
Advice for when your children first realise they are tall
Advice for Tall Children's parents about body confidence
How to deal with comments about your height nicely
I am tall does this make me different
Pregnant fashion tips