Geoff Thompson coined a term, “the fence”.
The fence is a self-defense technique. It’s so simple, but it’s not easy. Basically, the fence is putting your hands up and out in front of you. Poor description, but watch the first video and at about 0:46 you’ll see the fence. Watch the whole video to catch all the subtleties.
The fence aims to control a person: attacker, offensive person, someone in front of you. You’re working to maintain distance, so they cannot get in on you. The thing about the fence is that it’s not necessarily obvious nor aggressive. You have your hands up, you have your hands out. If you’re a person that speaks with your hands, this may not feel too awkward to you but you’ll just have to adapt how you move your hands so they don’t drop below your waist. The fence creates just that — a fence between you and the other person. From there you can control distance, you can use verbal skills to deescalate the situation. If however the situation escalates into violence, the fence puts your hands in a place for immediate action. You can block, trap, strike, parry all from a fence position.
Related to this, consider mantis blocks.
Another such stance some term the “chin-and-elbow cup”. Let’s assume you are right-handed. You will have your right hand cupping your left elbow, and the webbing between the thumb and index finger of your left hand will cradle your chin. This gives you an appearance of being in thought about whatever the dude is talking to you about. Some will say that you should also blade your strong side away. What does this do? It provides your body with coverage: right arm is protecting your mid and lower body, left arm is covering your upper body including having your arm in front of your throat. There are many possibilities and variations on this theme that you can do. Explore.
I have a Renzo Gracie book, Mastering Jujitsu, which discusses a stance called the “prayer stance”. Basically it appears as if you are standing with your hands in a prayer-like state, submissive. But of course it’s a deceptive stance in that it allows you to block, strike, drive in, whatever may be necessary.
There’s Tony Blauer’s “flinch” response:
There’s a lot out there that aims to look at self-defense from a non-agressive yet defensively advantageous position. Fences, flinch-response, and other such stances can be a vital part of your self-defense system, useful to help you avoid the problem in the first place or to help you survive and win if things get ugly.