Alpha Male Body Language for Writers
by Mary Buckham
by Mary Buckham
Reading male body language can either be a lifetime of trial and error – or involves a specific study of what sets them apart from women. Knowing and understanding male body language is very important for women writers to make sure their portrayal of male characters are accurate and grounded in ‘scientific’ facts, as opposed to simply being based on personal experience of viewpoint. So let’s have some fun in looking at what makes a male Alpha in his behavior and body language.
Male animals living in packs, such as wolves and wild dogs, compete to be the leader of the pack. This brings the strongest and smartest male to the leadership position and every pack has a leader who dominates and leads the other members of the pack. Thus the human Alpha Male refers to a type of man who is strong, smart and a leader. Others respect his decisions, and tend to not challenge him. An Alpha Male moves and stands in ways that show he expects to get what he wants without being questioned or challenged. After all who’s going to attack the biggest and most powerful?
Men can display some of their Alpha tendencies by consciously using their body posture. Standing or sitting erect with chest out, head up, arms relaxed and not flailing about are signs of dominance, and thus Alpha Maleness. Moving only when necessary, and moving slowly and deliberately indicate great self confidence, pride and determination. So an alpha male can be both the protagonist and villain on the page.
Alpha Males tend to display the following behavior patterns.
1. Aggression. This does not mean to be argumentative, belligerent and ready to fight but involves being dynamic and doing what needs to be done. They don’t wait to be shown what to do—they’ll ask forgiveness, not permission.
2. Assertiveness. Alpha males tend to communicate in a clear, straight forward fashion, respectful of others as long as others are following the Alpha’s direction. Alphas are used to leading and taking responsibility for others so they assume others will acknowledge this by following blindly and without complaint.
3. Courage. Alphas are ready and willing to confidently tackle problems and see them resolved. They take responsibility not only for themselves but for those under their protection—their family, their group, their community. There’s a reason why organizations such as the military or law enforcement abound with Alpha males. There is a structure, hierarchy and willingness to accept responsibility for doing the hard jobs, as well as an awareness of what protection of others entails that attracts Alphas to these fields.
4. Persistence. Alphas can and will keep focused on their goals and apply all resources until goals are achieved. These are not easy men to divert or stop once they’ve determined what they see as the right course of action to take.
Research has found that males, especially young ones in their teenager years, compete in many subtle ways for a perceived Alpha Male position on sport teams, gangs, or in neighborhoods. One way they demonstrate their Alpha Maleness is by taking risks and doing dangerous things. Risk-takers are advertising their fitness to potential mates by showing off their strength and bravery.
Not every man is a natural Alpha Male, and those who are not cannot fake it. A Beta male can be an Alpha male in the making, or can accept a lower position in the pack and thrive there.
More body language cues the dominant person uses can include:
• Directs and controls the conversation. A true dominant steers the conversation without resistance from others in the group. An Alpha Male-wannabe will hog the conversation.
• Freely asks questions and expects a response back but gives little or no self-disclosure. The Alpha male-wannabe will assume the conversation is all about them and steer it in that direction.
• Stands with hands on hips, elbows out to sides. Takes up more personal space that way and wants to look bigger. If sitting tends to also take up more space.
• Stands or sits taller than others subconsciously.
• Freely interrupts others speaking, not to shut down others but because he and others are willing to listen to him. Others don't interrupt him. Alpha Male-wannabes will override others to prove their points and shut others down.
• Long pause when answering a door knock, or replying to someone. Makes others wait. Not as rudeness but as the highest in a hierarchy.
• Freely touches others whereas others don't touch back. Example – a boss would pat an employee on the shoulder or back but the employee does not feel comfortable initiating or returning the gesture. Alpha Male-wannabe will use the touch in inappropriate ways.
• Will stare at others and as a result demand their attention. Others don't do the same back. Think of law enforcement officials in any kind of public interaction.
• Never breaks eye contact first. Others usually break eye contact first by looking down, signifying submission.
• Occupies a bigger personal space and crowds others on purpose but only because they are used to protecting their space and wanting, subconsciously, the strongest offensive or defensive position.
• Takes the lead purposefully when walking and going through doors.
• While sitting, will put hands behind head, put feet on desk, remove eye glasses and put ear-piece in mouth, or turn chair away from others and stare out window. [though many of these gestures are more common to men than women]
To learn more from Mary about the wonderful dynamics between male and female characters check out her upcoming live workshop in Lexington, Kentucky:
2nd Annual Kentucky Romance Writers Spring into Writing Workshop on Saturday, March 20, 2010 - 9:00 A.M. - 5:00 PM
Sex Between the Pages: Understanding and Writing Sexual Tension with Mary Buckham
COST: $25/MEMBERS; $30/NON-MEMBERS
HOST HOTEL: Hyatt Place, 2001 Bryant Road, Lexington, KY 40509 (For reservations call: 859-296-0091)
For more information visit:
Award-winning author Mary Buckham has worked with thousands of writers both on-line and in live workshops throughout the U.S. and Canada. She loves meeting writers at all levels of their development. She’s also the co-author of the ground-breaking plotting book BREAK INTO FICTION®: POWER PLOT YOUR NOVEL (Adam’s Media/June 2009).
To learn more about Mary visit her website www.MaryBuckham.com or www.BreakIntoFiction.com