Territorial lines are drawn everywhere in our lives from the particularities of our offices and automobiles, right down to the rooms in our own homes, and whom has access to them. We even have boundaries around our bodies which we protect rigorously. The more dominant the individual, the more apt they are to have and hold rigid boundaries about their personal space and possessions.

Sitting at the head of a table is fine so long as you are the highest rank, but if someone of higher rank appears, it’s customary to relinquish, or at least offer the seat to them. Members of a staff who are close in rank can sometimes power play each other for these seats at the boardroom table in attempt to move up. The body language in these situations can become very potent as the desires of each party becomes more evident. Your office staff knows which seats are most coveted!

Leaders also get permission to move through doorways first and walk in front of groups instead of follow, and it is customary to allow them to do so. The exception, as always, comes when we wish to usurp their position, challenge their authority, or try to build equality where we might trade dominance rights back and forth.

Placing objects such as jackets and brief cases on a seat can hold it and delineate temporary ownership. Dominance is also expressed through claiming stake to valuable items, or the prevention of touching certain things, or even occupying certain space. We rarely think about ownership of people, but placing an arm over someone, playfully messing up their hair or guiding them to where we want them to go by placing a hand to their back, as a parent would his child, are just a few ways that we show others that we own and control them.

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