There are times when I shake someone’s hand, where I feel the person is trying to establish superiority over me. Sometimes a person’s strong grip will give me this message. Other times, their hand comes swooping from above with their palm down. These are direct or indirect ways when someone is expressing dominance in their body language.
It is especially evident to me when they want to establish themselves as superior, when subtle verbal statements go along with their dominant body language. If your temperament is like mine, you don’t really care if they think themselves as dominant because like me, perhaps you are a secure person. But the actions of the controlling person can be annoying.
What’s one to do?
Regarding handshakes, there are ways to reverse the dominance in body language. If a person has a strong grip, try to hold their hand a second or two longer than necessary. This may be a little awkward for the other person, but they will quickly know you are not easily lorded over. The Hand swooping from above with their palm down to shake your hand is a little trickier. One option if possible, is to remain a distance away from them as they close in then, quickly swoop down from above with your palm down.
I personally know a very tall individual who I’ve had differences in philosophy with. Publicly we try to keep a peaceful persona but we are not really friends. Every time we see each other in public, he makes a grand spectacle of saying hello to me and immediately patting me on the back while holding one of my shoulders. This is quite annoying because he is so tall and I know he is trying to establish who is superior – even if it is unconsciously.
However, the last time my tall friend tried to show dominance in body language, I reversed it on him. Because he is so tall, I had to put my arm under his then I placed my other arm around him. I gave him a big hug. This surprised him. It must have especially surprised him when I held on to him for a few seconds. He seemed a little more hesitant to continue talking with me after that.
Dominance in body language can also be expressed with walking. People that want to show superiority while walking in a group, will try to get ahead of the pack. They have to be first. They prefer to be in the middle. Especially when there are three people walking, the one that wants to show dominance in body language will strive to be in the middle. But, if we all wanted to reverse this dominant body language expression, everyone will eventually be racing each other to the front. This would look ridiculous. A good way to show dominance in body language in this context when walking in a group is to stay behind. Let people go in front of you while you touch their back, helping them to move along. Feel strategic and important, and you will come across as being in charge. Let the guy in front take the first bullet.