There are some men and women who are well-schooled in the art of using nonverbal cues to their advantage in almost any given situation, and then there are some people who have concentrated their attention on just a couple of winning efforts. It’s not only business people who work confident, friendly body language into their everyday dealings. Your friends, spouse, and neighbors also have some favorite tricks for turning situations to their advantage. What are they up to?
In any given argument, the person who is physically higher is subconsciously deemed to be in the position of power. So let’s say your spouse is trying to convince you to invest in her brother’s business. You tell her it’s a bad idea. Her brother is a certified nutcase as far as you’re concerned, and you wouldn’t trust him with a ten-dollar bill, never mind half your life’s savings. You seat yourself on the couch, turn on the football game, and consider the conversation over. Suddenly, your wife is in front of you, peering down into your eyes, informing you that the savings account belongs to her, too, and she’s entering into this deal with or without your approval. In addition to the browbeating she’s giving you, she’s probably using several other domineering nonverbal cues here—crossed arms, wide-legged stance, a set jaw, furrowed brows—but it’s her position of being above you that gives her an added boost of power. When she walks away, the case seems quite closed.
The high-eye position is reminiscent of a parent scolding a child, which is why humans tend to either cower in reaction or rebel with everything they’ve got.
It’s long been theorized that women will use their female assets to get what they want from men. Is this true, or is this belief a throwback to prefeminist days of male chauvinism?
It’s fair to say that some women are very skilled at this practice, while others would never dream of flirting to get ahead in life. Women who do view their femininity as a tool tend to be equal opportunists—that is, they use their body language to charm men and women. Friendly touches, smiling, intense eye contact, angling the body, and closing in on personal space are all tricks of the trade here. The difference, of course, is that men will fantasize about sleeping with this woman, where other women will consider including her in their lunch plans. The touchy-feely woman, of course, knows all of this beforehand and doesn’t seem deterred when some people react negatively to her behavior. The law of averages, she figures, is on her side. And judging by her success rate, she’s right.
Men have their own set of behaviors designed to intimidate one another and snare the most desirable mates, the most profitable clients, and the best seats at any given game. A man who’s the head honcho in any given situation—whether it’s business or pleasure—is known as the alpha male. He’s usually taller than the other guys (but not always—Napoleon Bonaparte was an alpha male who, contrary to common belief, was of average height) but he’s not necessarily more intelligent or better looking. So how does he intimidate men, woo women, and win business contracts?
The alpha male refers to the leader of a wolf pack. His female counterpart, not surprisingly, is the alpha female. The rest of the wolves are beta males and females. Their lot in life is to follow behind the alphas.
Simple. He acts confident. He uses the classic confident posturing—shoulders back, head up, straight spine—but at the same time, he looks content and relaxed. He’s very sure that he’s going to get whatever he wants, whether it’s a seat at the bar or a date with the waitress. So what do you do with a guy like this? If you’re a woman attempting to date him, you have to let him come to you so he thinks he’s made the conquest. If you’re a man dealing with an alpha male, don’t be afraid to use your own confident body language in response to his domineering behavior. Because this guy can be intimidating, he makes a lot of average guys feel badly about themselves. Just remember, he doesn’t have anything that you can’t achieve with confidence and persistence (two of his best tricks).