The Ultimate Body Language Guide

Dominant Body Language Guide

Dominant body language is very similar to aggressive body language, but with a less emotional content and it involves alterior motives. Dominant body language is used to show who’s boss.

Enlarging the Body

Hands on hips makes the elbows go wide and makes the body seem larger. So does standing upright and erect, with the chin up and the chest thrust out. Legs are often placed apart to increase size as well.

Heightening the Body

Height is also important as it increases the dominance display. You can do this by standing up straight or somehow getting the other person lower than you. Maybe by putting them on a lower seat or by standing on a step.

Superiority Signals

Breaking Social Rules

Leaders do not need to follow rules! They live by their own rules. By not following other peoples rules you show that you are the dominant being.


By owning something others desire provides a status symbol. This can be territorial, such as a larger house, or displays of wealth or power, such as an expensive car or having many subordinates.

Just owning things is an initial symbol, but in body language it is the flaunting of these, often casually, that is the power display.


A dominant act is to disrespect the ownership of others by invading their territory. For example getting too close to them by invading their body space. Other dominant actions include sitting on their chairs, leaning on their cars and being over friendly with their romantic partners.

Belittling Others

A dominant person may ignore or interrupt another person who is speaking or turn away from them. They may also criticize the inferior person whether the other person can hear them or not.

Facial Signals

The eyes can be used to stare and hold the gaze for long period. They may also squint, preventing the other person seeing where you are looking. They may also look at anywhere but the other person, effectively saying that ‘you are not even worth looking at’.

Dominant people often smile much less than submissive people.

The Dominant Greeting

When people first meet and greet, their first interaction sets the pattern for the future relationship. When a person is dominant here, then they will most likely continue to be dominant.

The Handshake

A dominant handshake is with the palm down, symbolically being bigger then them. Another form of dominant handshake is to use strength to squeeze the other persons hand.

Holding the other person’s hand for longer than normal also shows that you are in control.

Eye Contact

Prolonged, concentrated eye contact says ‘I am powerful.’ The dominant person may alternatively prevent eye contact, saying ‘You are beneath me and I do not want even to look at you.’


The person who speaks first often gets to control the conversation, either by talking for longer or by controlling the questions.

Responding to dominance

There are a range of options if others display dominant body language.

The simplest response is to not submit, which is what they probably want. Continue to appear friendly and ignore their dominant signals.

Another response is to fight dominance with dominance, for example:

  • Out-stare (a trick here is to look at the bridge of their nose, not their eyes).
  • Touch them, either before they touch you or immediately when they touch you.
  • When they do a power handshake, grab their elbow and step to the side.
  • When they butt in to your speech, speed up, talk more loudly and say ‘let me finish!’

Interested in learning everything there is to know about body language? Check out this complete body language guide.


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