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Spot The Alpha

In this pic, try to identify who is more alpha:

i’m banging a hot russian gymnast half my age. and you?

90% of alphaness is telegraphed through body language, eye contact, facial expression, nonverbal vocalization, and voice tonality. The actual words you say mean very little. For instance, if you laugh at your own jokes you are probably beta. Here we see two wary foes — both of them silverback apex alphas — testing boundaries and trying to establish ultimate dominance. Putin has pulled the “hand over hand” handshake alpha maneuver with a subtle condescending pat to the top of Bush’s hand like a grandmother might give to a precocious child, while Bush has opted for the arm-across-back shoulder clasping “claw” maneuver (something a taller man is well-equipped to do).

This photo is really a great showcase of what happens when two genuine alpha males lock horns and battle for supremacy. The interplay is subtle, but it’s there, make no mistake. At the highest levels, alphas don’t ball up their hands into fists and throw punches, they sublimate the cruder forms of chest thumping into the refined art of civilized court intrigue.

Their faces also tell a story. Bush is stifling an open-mouthed smirk, but his eyes betray unease. He looks like he’s forcing his will upon Putin with his slight lean-in. Putin’s half-lidded eyes and barely downturned mouth hint of haughtiness. Deep in his Commie bones he feels like the superior man to Bush, and this past week in Georgia he demonstrated it when he shoved that air of superiority into Bush’s face by proxy. Also, I notice Putin is standing straight, avoiding the lean-in, and keeping his torso turned less toward Bush and more toward the audience. In contrast, Bush’s body angle defers to Putin.

Whether either of these men’s confidence is warranted is irrelevant. Their strutting for the cameras is what matters.

ALPHA: Putin, by a red whisker. Bush’s “claw” is the most dominant singular gesture in this photo, but the sum total of alpha gestures favors Putin.

(*Note: When Bush said he “looked into [Putin’s] eyes and saw his soul”, many commentators at the time obliquely hinted that this was a beta move, but in fact it was alpha. A strong man can afford to say seemingly silly things like that because it potentially buttresses a larger strategic goal; namely, that of giving your enemy false comfort. Unfortunately, in Bush’s case, alpha doesn’t always equate to smart.)

***

In the previous photo, we examined alpha posturing between two unfriendlies. Now let’s look at a photo of two men who are on friendly terms:

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You think dominance games cease between friends? Think again. Friendship is no immunity from alpha posturing.

The man on the left is a US representative who has just signed a draft missile shield deal with his Polish counterpart on the right. In their respective countries, I believe the Polish man would be higher up his government food chain than the US rep would be in ours, but because the US is a much more powerful country the playing field during this signing ceremony was effectively leveled. A lower ranking rep from a stronger country trumps a higher ranking rep from a weaker country, even on the weaker country’s turf, and especially when the stronger country is presenting an offer of protection.

To the analysis. Judging by the distance traversed, the Pole has extended his arm first to meet the American for a fully engaged handshake (this was a firm one based on the robust contact between their hands’ thumb and forefinger webbing). The Pole’s hand is in the American’s personal space, who keeps his elbow relaxed and close to his side. Usually, jumping the handshake gun and reaching into your recipient’s personal space signals an effort to establish dominance, and is the mark of the lesser alpha trying to gain street cred. But at the highest levels of social interaction the true alpha can afford to ease off and let the other male put in the work to meet his hand. That is what the American has done here. He knows he is the stronger presence — the “fulcrum” — and thus his alpha gravitational pull brings handshakes toward him.

Take heed: Depending on context and the betaness of your target, the handshake reach-in can be either a move for dominance or a signal of deference.

The Pole’s face is more expressive than the American’s. His smile is broader and his head leans forward slightly. Remember that the alpha male more often than not composes himself with indifference; his face is one of inscrutable impassivity, punctuated infrequently by minimalist gestures like raised eyebrows, chuckles, or cocky smirks. The “happier” of the two men is the one who is lower ranking. The Pole’s facial brightness reveals that he is more impressed with the proceedings. The American possesses the ennui of “been there done that”.

Finally, look at the positions of their opposite hands. It’s subtle, but the American holds his left hand down by his side, while the Pole keeps his in a “shielding” position in front of his crotch. Shielding body language, like arm-crossing and holding drinks chest-high, are self-protection maneuvers employed by betas. It’s the voice of the subconscious given sound through the physicality of the body.

Paradoxically, the body language of an alpha male in the company of lesser men is one of vulnerability. A true alpha has no fear of his environment and has complete control of events around him, and thus announces his elevated status by assuming nonverbal gestures and stances that could potentially make him more vulnerable to usurpers. This is why the seduction community focuses so strongly on what you do with your body before you even open your mouth. Pickup 101 is especially effective at teaching alpha body language skills. For example, when you stand, open your legs to shoulder width and prop your body weight onto one foot while pointing your other foot at a 60 degree angle outwards. This is a horrible position to stand in if someone decides to bum rush you, because you have handicapped your weight distribution, but it is the position to be in if you want other males and girls to know you are utterly unconcerned with incipient threats.

A man who can wave off worry with a look of relaxed aloofness and total situational command is very attractive to women, and confusing to would-be challengers. Defensive, bristly posturing is the mark of the greater beta attempting to punch above his weight. Always act as if you’re already seated on the throne, not as if you’re trying to dethrone someone who got there before you.

ALPHA: The American. (Note, too, how an alpha designation for a man hinges very little on his appearance. The Pole is taller and handsomer, but his body language tells the story.)

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