Sprawler or dominant male?

Wether daybed, lounger or armchair, whatever you sit on you can take up one of countless postures – and in doing so you reveal a lot about your inner attitude. The psychologist Professor Dr. Alfred Gebert speaks about body language and seven ways of sitting.

The sprawler

To interpret this posture you have to take the context into account even more than with others – the situation in which it is presented. If the boss sits like this during a job interview, it says to the applicant that he can cease to make any further effort. The post is taken – by someone else! After all, anyone to whom so little respect is shown is not about to be taken into employment. This posture means: "I am the master around here, I permit myself anything, even putting my feet up on the table. And you won't for a minute get your foot through the door in this place.


At home in the living room it can mean something quite different. He might be stretching out on the armchair, folding his arms above his head. He's relaxed and wouldn't mind if his girlfriend ran her fingers through his hair a bit. “Come here, I'm open to some affection”, might well be what the sprawler is trying to say with this posture.

At work, on the other hand, among colleagues, it is more likely to mean he does not want any attention. The very same posture can then mean: “Leave me alone, I want to think and I have no time for office chat.”


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The bunny

Oh my, what a fearful little thing! The sight of someone sitting like this initiates protective instincts in others because it signals a need for protection. It shows that the sitter is intimidated, either by the many unknown people around him, or by his situation in life. You often see youngsters sitting like this, cowering in a curled-up pose rather like that of the embryo in the womb.

Strangely enough, many teenagers seem to believe that this embryonic posture looks cool to others. Perhaps because it is unconventional. In reality one would sit on the floor like this, but not on a chair or armchair. The Neanderthals probably assumed this position when they sat on the ground, but it simply does not suit the chair. Unless, that is, you happen to be watching a scary thriller on TV!

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The pseudo-casual

"Hey, I'm a relaxed kind of guy. I don't care that this is a job interview and I am the applicant. No-one can bother me». That is the kind of message this person might be trying to put across with his posture. Unfortunately the person sitting across from him notices outright that he is trying to seem casual when in reality he is not. It becomes especially clear when the legs are so close together that the knees touch, which can signal inhibition. Not good!

And yet, as always with matters of body language, the meaning of this posture can depend very much on the context of the sitting scene. It may well be that this is how someone sits on their sofa at home; then it can only speak of relaxation - such as when you want to take the weight off your neck muscles.


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The aristocrat

This sitting posture can certainly emanate dignity and competence. Chest out, shoulders back, legs crossed loosely or placed parallel with one of attentiveness and elegance. Many business-women sit like this. And if you want the ideal model for the most noble variation of this posture, Sabine Christiansen masters it to perfection.

However, with almost the same posture you can also signal defensiveness and tension. For instance, if you not only cross your legs, but also wind the foot of your upper leg around the ankle of the lower; or if you let your shoulders hang in a kind of slump, it indicates a lack of self-confidence. Even worse is when the would-be aristocratic sitter places one leg on the other so that it is parallel with the floor. If he (or she) then folds his arms in front of him, then that means “I don’t want to allow anything to get to me. I don’t want to say anything, nor to be asked anything”.


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Look forward to the presentation of the The dominant male next week.