Centuries ago, men used shields to protect themselves from the spears and clubs of the enemy, and today, civilised man uses whatever he has at his disposal to symbolise this same protective behaviour when he is under physical or verbal attack. This includes standing behind a gate, doorway, fence, desk, the open door of his motor vehicle and straddling a chair (Figure 91). The back of the chair provides a shield to protect his body and can transform him into an aggressive, dominant warrior. Most chair straddlers are dominant individuals who will try to take control of other people or groups when they become bored with the conversation, and the back of the chair serves as good protection from any 'attack' by other members of the group. He is often discreet and can slip into the straddle position almost unnoticed.
The easiest way to disarm the straddler is to stand or sit behind him, making him feel vulnerable to attack and forcing him to change his position, becoming less aggressive. This can work well in groups because the straddler will have his back exposed; this forces him to change position.
But how do you handle a one-to-one confrontation with a straddler on a swivel chair? It is pointless to try to reason with him, particularly when he is on a swivelling merry-go-round, so the best defence is non-verbal attack. Conduct your conversation standing above and looking down upon the straddler and move within his personal territory. This is very disconcerting to him and he may even fall backwards off his chair in an attempt to avoid being forced to change position.
If you have a straddler coming to visit you and his aggressive attitude annoys you, be sure to seat him on a fixed chair that has arms to stop him from taking his favourite position.
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