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Techniques > Use of body language > Core patterns > Expanding

Pattern | Found in | Discussion | See also

 

Pattern

The body is made taller, wider and generally bigger by:

  • Standing upright, as tall as possible.
  • Straightening the head.
  • Thrusting out the chin.
  • Flaring the nose.
  • Push out the elbows and arms, possibly sweeping out a wide space.
  • Opening the hands.
  • Puffing out the chest.
  • Planting feet to either side (standing wide).

Found in

Discussion

Making the body bigger says 'I am powerful' and is a typical male action. This warns other men not to attack and may indicate that the person is thinking of attacking. It can thus be a response to a threat. If one man expands, then others have the choice of retreating or expanding also ('If you attack, I'll fight back!'). Expansion can thus indicate anger.

With women, expansion often also says 'I will protect you', demonstrating the basic partnership requirement to protect one's family from harm.

Another expansion is 'puffing up with pride', where a person feels their sense of identity grow and they literally feel bigger. When you praise another person, you may see them expand.

A bigger person is metaphorically superior and looks down on others whilst they look up. Expansion thus indicates a feeling of 'I'm better than others'.

This shaping can also mean 'Hello! I'm here'. Making yourself bigger also makes yourself more visible. A person in a group who wants to speak may expand first.

See also

 

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