Decoding Alpha Body Language

Alpha body language exudes power, confidence, authority, and leadership.

Numerous factors play a role in giving an individual this "top dog" alpha status in the hierarchy. Any combination of them can contribute to raising an individual to this status. Things such as:

  • Wealth
  • Business Success
  • Success in a Given Profession
  • Good Looks
  • High Confidence
  • Authority
  • Experience
  • Fame
  • Reputation

You'll find that in relationships, in family units, in groups of friends, in the workplace, and in any gathering of two or more individuals, there is always one individual that is more dominant than the rest. Sometimes it's subtle and slight, other times it's blatantly obvious, but it is always there.

When Alphas Meet Other Alphas

Alpha status changes at certain points. The alpha of your department at work (presumably your supervisor) isn't going to be the alpha in a meeting with the CEO. When the CEO walks into the room it's an instant bump down the hierarchy until the meeting is over and the big chief has made his exit.

Now imagine if that same CEO were invited to meet with the President of the United States. Would he still be an Alpha? Nope. Automatic bump down.

Alphas of the same status from different groups, if those groups meet or need to merge, will likely vie for top status unless one of them concedes willingly to the other, wherein the new hierarchy is established and transitioned into smoothly.

If neither wants to give in, however, they will vie for position, subtly challenging one another with alpha body language gestures until one of them concedes.

Alpha Body Language: Power Gestures


The gesture Donald Trump makes here with his hands is a power gesture known as a low steeple.

Who knew that simply pressing your fingertips together could scream such a powerful message? This steeple says, "I am the boss here. I am the one who calls the shots."

Trump is at the head of the table, seated in a high-backed chair, doing a steeple- a triple whammy. You can't get much more alpha than that.

dominant hand gestures

President Obama uses a double point. This move, used while speaking, gives your words more weight and packs a bigger punch. When used to rally a crowd, this gesture says, "I feel intensely about what I am saying."

Pointing can be dangerous territory, however. Pointing at a person comes off as accusatory and threatening. But pointing for emphasis in a situation like this can be powerful.

dominant body language

Shark Tank's Kevin O'Leary does a high steeple, a gesture he makes frequently throughout the show.

High steeples, when done in moderation, and at precise moments, can relay messages of authority and high status.

Be careful, however. Too much steepling comes off as domineering and egocentric.

nonverbal behavior

Hands in the pockets is a no-no if you're aiming for a confident, self-assured image.

However, hands-in-the-pockets-with-thumbs-out is the exception to the rule. This is one of a very few unique gestures wherein hiding your hands does not reflect negatively on you.

In fact, this gesture comes across as cool, undaunted, and intrepid, even. This is a daring move and it makes a very bold statement.

If you absolutely do not know what to do with your hands, and they keep sliding into your pockets- make a compromise. Poking your thumbs out will send a message of higher status. Use it lightly, though.

alpha body language

Vladimir Putin consistently displays alpha body language. Here he does a crotch display, a very gutsy, alpha gesture, not for the faint of heart.

Granted, this meeting took place on his turf, a sure sign that this is a King-of-the-Castle sort of pose. You probably wouldn't see him do this elsewhere on another man's turf.

His knees are spread wide apart as he lounges casually, his elbows resting on the arms of his chair which broadens his frame, making him look bigger.

nonverbal communication

This is a crotch point. You will never see women make this alpha body language gesture- it seems to be an exclusively male gesture.

Those fingers may as well be flashing red neon arrows, guiding the eye directly down to the nether regions.   

This gesture says," There is a real man in this room. And it's me." However, this gesture comes off as dominant and extremely arrogant. Please do not use. Ever.

dominant handshakes

Notice anything about this handshake?

Yep, you guessed it. The "top shaker" has forced the "bottom shaker's" hand palm up. The top shaker's hand has claimed the dominant, palm down position.

Alpha though you may be, it's not wise to dominate and turn off potential allies, friends, or business partners with an overbearing handshake, a sure way to damage rapport and miss out on some good opportunities.

A great quick fix for those on the losing end of the dominant handshake is the hand hug gesture, seen here on the left.

Simply place your free hand on top of the top shaker's hand and hold or pat for a second or two until he has released your hand. This comes off as a gesture of sincerity while you reclaim your dignity at the same time.

nonverbal gestures

Yet another type of steeple, this is known as the basketball steeple.

Often used by politicians, coaches, or those who want to inspire their audience, the basketball steeple pops up when the speaker wants to communicate a "mutually working together toward a goal" type of message.

When done at the right moment, the user of this gesture sends a message of strong and capable leadership.

body language gestures

This is an alpha body language gesture known as a chin grab. It's not only alphas who make this gesture, of course- we all do it. We make this gesture when the reasoning part of our brain takes the lead.

Most often this gesture is made when an individual is in analysis mode, when the brain scrutinizes, studies, and considers before reaching a conclusion.

Other Alpha Gestures Of Note...

Other alpha body language gestures not pictured here:

  • While sitting, reclining back with legs fully extended, arms bent and fingers interlaced, cradling the back of the head. Some call this a full body steeple. The laced fingers behind the head is also a steeple known as a crown steeple.
  • Resting your foot on, or gripping with your hand, an object associated with someone or something you want to claim as yours, a territorial conquest. For example, picture a woman sitting on a stool at a bar. Now picture two men in the bar working up the nerve to go talk to her. One of them finally does but takes a break to order more drinks from the bartender. In his absence, the second man approaches her. Right that moment the first man comes back with the drinks. Watch close in a scenario like this and you will see guy #1 plop his foot up onto the bottom rung of her stool, (if there is one) or touch her chair, claiming his territory.

Look closely and you'll spot alpha body language everywhere. Want to bring out your inner alpha? Experiment with some of these gestures. Amazingly, the simple act of doing the gestures will actually make you feel more confident. Your body really can change your mind.

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