Territorial Gestures

People lean against other people or objects to show a territorial claim to that object or person. Leaning can also be used as a method, of dominance or intimidation when the object being leaned on belongs to someone else. For example, if you are going to take a photograph of a friend and his new car, boat, home or other personal belonging, you will inevitably find that he leans against his newly acquired property, putting his foot on it or his arm around it (Figure 130). When he touches the property, it becomes an extension of his body and in this way he shows others that it belongs to him. Young lovers continually hold hands or put their arms around one another in public and social situations to show others the claim that they have on each other. The business executive puts his feet on his desk or desk drawers or leans against his office doorway to show his claim to that office and its furnishings.

However, an easy way to intimidate someone is to lean against, sit upon or use their possessions without their permission. In addition to the obvious abuses of another's territory or possessions such as sitting at his desk or borrowing his car without asking, there are other very subtle intimidation techniques. One is to lean against the doorway in another's office or to inadvertently sit in his chair.

As already mentioned, a sales person calling on a customer at his home is well advised to ask him 'Which seat is yours?' before he sits down, as sitting in the wrong chair intimidates the customer and puts him offside, which can have a detrimental effect on the chance of a successful sale.

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Some people, like the man shown in Figure 131, are habitual doorway leaners and go through life intimidating most people from the first introduction. These people are well advised to practise an erect stance with palms visible to make a favourable impression on others. People form 90 per cent of their opinion about you in the first ninety seconds of meeting you, and you never get a second chance to make a first impression!

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