Compliant signals

Society depends on compliance . If nobody backed down we'd be extinct within months . Our network of complex dominance and compliance signals is in use on a virtually permanent basis, as each transaction we do relies on a harmonious balancing act for it to be successful

When the balancing act tips, even slightly, our response is far bigger than the event itself

When you go into a shop to buy goods, you expect to be dominant in that transaction As the customer you will have the expectation of a degree of compliance from the person who serves you . In fact the word "serve" gives a huge clue to the nature of the power balance in this situation

Most shop workers are trained to be compliant, some more than others Some shops have what they call a "cando" culture, training their staff to bend over backward for the customer. Others are less submissive but the balance is always pretty much in favor of the customer

To signal this compliance the "server" is expected to smile more as they offer help But this isn't always the case Some shop staff excel at raising their own status via body language or behavior techniques, some of which are so subtle the customer has no idea how they happened or what they did, only that they felt insulted and crushed by what's often called "attitude "

In a social group scenario, compliance will be vital for group polarization All social groups consist of dominant and compliant roles that can be fixed or transitory We're all affected by what's called the normative influence—that is, a desire to be liked and accepted The easiest way to be liked is to be submissive and compliant Often mistakenly we feel that doing what other people want will make them like us Sometimes we discover too late that they have no respect for us

Continue reading here: Status and power signals

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