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Non-verbal Signs That Say "I'm the Boss"
by Tag Goulet

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Non-verbal Signs That Say "I'm the Boss"
Published with permission from FabJob.

The man in the photograph is leaning back in his chair, fingers laced behind his head, feet on his desk.

"What do you think he is communicating?" I ask a group of management communications students. To many of the students, the man appears casual and relaxed.

In fact, he is communicating superiority. The foot on the desk conveys ownership or territoriality.

If this man is not the boss, he is someone his co-workers need to watch out for, say Gerald I. Nierenberg and Henry H. Calero, authors of the popular How to Read a Person Like a Book.

"Learning is acquired by reading books, but the much more necessary learning, the knowledge of the world, is only to be acquired by reading men, and studying all the various editions of them." -- Lord Chesterfield, "Letters to His Son"

Nierenberg and Calero studied the meaning of non-verbal communication in business and found many gestures that appear on the surface to be casual are in fact signs of dominance and aggression.

Such gestures also include straddling a chair or sitting with one leg over the arm of a chair.

If this seems far-fetched, you may want to ask yourself who appears casual in your workplace.

Is it the boss? A co-worker who seems to rub people the wrong way? A junior employee who likes to challenge authority?

If a junior employee uses such gestures it may be only when the boss isn't around. If the boss happens by, the employee may "snap to attention".

Notice the non-verbal communication in your workplace, but don't assume from a single gesture that someone is communicating dominance or aggression.

A particular gesture may be a habit or may have an entirely different meaning for the person making it.

Watch for clusters (a group) of gestures that communicate a similar message, and notice the circumstances in which they are used.

Does someone adopt dominance gestures during a negotiation or in the presence of certain people? If so, those gestures may be more than just a habit.

Should you use dominance gestures yourself? In a negotiation, such gestures may help to convey that you are confident.

However, if you would not verbally challenge your boss or someone else in a position of authority, you should not challenge them non-verbally either unless you are prepared to face the consequences.

Visit Here to find a career you can be passionate about.

Tag Goulet is the author of the FabJob Guide to Become a Motivational Speaker. The complete guide offers detailed information about how you can break into this career and get hired as a motivational speaker.

Tag is co-Chief Executive Officer (with sister Catherine) of FabJob Inc., has 15 years of publishing experience and has been creating websites since 1996. Visit for information.

Become a Motivational Speaker

by Tag Goulet
Sisters Tag and Catherine Goulet are the Dream Career Experts. In 1999 they founded, a publisher of guides on how to break into a dream career, which has been visited by 50 million people. They have been featured giving career advice in media from ABC to and Woman's Day to the Wall Street Journal online, and their career advice appears frequently on the career pages at and They are authors of the book Dream Careers: How to Quickly Break into a Fab Job! Visit to discover how to break into a dream career. is featured in Woman's World Magazine ("Land Your Dream Job" article, April 2007).

FabJob Guides have been featured in stories at The Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur Magazine sites.

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