8 body language signs of someone who always needs to be in control, according to psychology

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There’s a world of difference between being a leader and being a control freak.

This distinction often lies in subtle cues, hidden in our body language.

When someone always needs to be in control, their body language is a telltale sign, even if their words try to convince you otherwise.

According to psychology, certain body language signs can reveal this need for control.

Understanding these signs can give you an upper hand in tricky dynamics, whether at work or in personal relationships.

Here are some key body language signs of someone who always needs to be in control.

1) Dominant posture

Psychology suggests that there’s more to our physical stance than just standing tall.

Often, the way we carry ourselves speaks volumes about our mindset and personality traits. And when it comes to those who feel the need to be constantly in control, they frequently display dominant postures.

These postures can range from standing tall with shoulders back and chest out to leaning forward aggressively in conversations. Even the way they take up space, whether it’s spreading out their belongings or physically expanding their presence, can signal their need for dominance.

Being aware of these dominant postures can help you identify those who are always seeking control. 

2) Interrupting and talking over others

This is a behavior I’ve personally witnessed in various settings, from work meetings to social gatherings.

People who always need to be in control have a tendency to interrupt and talk over others. It’s as if they need to assert their authority by controlling the conversation.

I remember once being in a meeting where one colleague just wouldn’t let anyone else get a word in. He would constantly interrupt and talk over anyone who tried to contribute, making it clear that he felt his ideas were the most important.

It’s crucial to remember, though, that not all interruptions are about control. Sometimes, people might just be overly excited or passionate about a subject.

But when it becomes a consistent pattern, it can certainly be a sign of someone who always needs to be in control.

3) Excessive eye contact

Eye contact is an integral part of communication. It can signify attention, interest, or even attraction. But in some cases, it can also be an indicator of control.

Excessive, prolonged eye contact is often used by individuals who always need to be in control. It can be their way of asserting dominance and establishing authority.

People who maintain higher levels of eye contact are often perceived as more powerful and dominant.

So the next time someone maintains unyielding eye contact, it might just be their way of asserting control.

4) Non-reciprocal touch

Touch is a powerful form of nonverbal communication, and it can often indicate a person’s need for control.

Those who always need to be in control might frequently use non-reciprocal touch—that is, they touch others but rarely allow others to touch them.

This can range from a firm grip on the arm, a pat on the back, or even a subtle touch on the shoulder.

By initiating physical contact, they aim to establish dominance or assert authority.

It’s important to keep in mind that context is key, and not all instances of touch are about control. Always consider the situation and other behavioral cues before drawing conclusions.

5) Micro-expressions

Micro-expressions are fleeting, involuntary facial expressions that occur within a fraction of a second. They often reveal our true feelings before we have a chance to mask them.

People who always need to be in control may display these micro-expressions.

For instance, they might show subtle signs of irritation when things aren’t going their way or display a brief smirk when they gain the upper hand.

By learning to pick up on these quick, often overlooked expressions, you can gain insight into someone’s need for control.

Keep in mind, though, that interpreting micro-expressions can be tricky and requires practice and keen observation.

6) Closed body language

Imagine this: you’re in a group discussion and someone continually crosses their arms, turns their body away from the group, or avoids eye contact.

This closed-off body language can often indicate a need for control.

From my own experience, I’ve seen how this can create walls in relationships and hamper open communication. It’s as if the person is physically representing their need to shield themselves from others’ influence and maintain their own control.

It’s hard to see, especially when it stops genuine connection and collaboration.

Recognizing this sign can help with your interactions using empathy and understanding, while also protecting your own emotional wellbeing.

7) Rapid, abrupt movements

If you notice someone making rapid, abrupt movements, it might be a sign of their need to control. This can include things like rapidly tapping their fingers, quickly shifting positions, or frequently adjusting their clothing.

These behaviors often stem from impatience or anxiety—feelings that can be linked to a need for control. They might be eager to move things along at their own pace or anxious about the potential loss of control.

While it’s important not to jump to conclusions based on a single observation, consistent patterns of such behavior can provide insight into a person’s need for control.

8) Lack of active listening

The art of active listening is a sign of respect and empathy. When someone constantly needs to be in control, they often show signs of not actively listening to others.

They might be quick to respond before you’ve finished speaking, or they might steer the conversation back to themselves.

This shows a desire to control the conversation and can be a frustrating experience for those trying to communicate with them.

Active listening is a vital part of meaningful interaction. Recognizing its absence in someone’s behavior can be a significant indicator of their need for control.

Final thoughts

When it comes to understanding human behavior, psychology provides us with valuable insights. And one of the most profound insights is the power of empathy.

Empathy allows us to understand and share the feelings of others. It helps us see beyond the surface-level behaviors and understand the underlying motivations.

For those who always need to be in control, their body language and behaviors often stem from deeper insecurities, fears, or needs. They might be seeking validation, security, or just trying to protect themselves from perceived threats.

As you encounter them, remember this: empathy is your guiding light. It not only brings understanding but also fosters connection, compassion, and mutual respect.

Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair is a former competitive athlete who transitioned into the world of wellness and mindfulness. Her journey through the highs and lows of competitive sports has given her a unique perspective on resilience and mental toughness. Ava’s writing reflects her belief in the power of small, daily habits to create lasting change.

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