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Taking up space is a display of dominance and authority.

Taking up space is a display of dominance and authority.

Since openness is a reaction to comfort and being closed relates to fear of attack, it is natural that we should see more dominant people hold more open postures and subordinate people hold more closed postures. An employer, for example, being more comfortable in the workplace would be expected to hold his hands to his sides, rather than have his arms crossed, use a palm down handshake showing dominance and generally avoid holding himself up against objects or hidden behind objects like coffee mugs or folders. His subordinate employees, on the other hand, would feel more comfortable with their hands in their pockets, finding refuge against the back of a chair, leaning against a desk, or hiding behind a notebook. Employees might also take up an arm cross, either in full, but usually only in part, by grab their opposite arm or elbow, and tuck one leg behind the other in the ankle cross. Employees will avoid a full arm cross because they don’t want to appear totally closed to the suggestions of their employer.