Aggressive Body Language In The Workplace - Cues to Watch Out For

aggressive body language in the workplace negative examples

Body language has come under scrutiny lately in the workplace. This means body language is the subtle cues we exchange with each other as nonverbal communication. 

Body language remains challenging to analyze for many people, as our team at FinditHealth discovered through research: It’s pretty subjective, with a single gesture conveying many possible interpretations. Most importantly, aggressive body language behavior impacts the big picture of an organization’s productivity.

In this article, we break down what aggressive body language is and examples and context of positive language and behavior that can be shown in the workplace.

aggressive body language in the workplace negative examples

Negative Body Language In The Workplace

aggressive body language in the workplace with strategies in the office

Aggressive body language is often done subconsciously and can be demonstrated through a person’s posture, movement, voice, and facial expressions.

Aggressive body language comes in many types, from subtle, passive-aggressive, to downright violent.

For example, a person could say a snide remark, use an intimidating touch to threaten, or raise their voice toward one another. Aggressive language is typically used to intimate another person so that they feel threatened and back down from the situation without arguing back.

Sometimes this aggressive body language comes from not having ideals in life. For most of us, the ideal life is one in which we can be our best selves and live to our highest potential. 

In which we feel good and have the freedom of good mental and physical health. If you aren’t living your life to your highest potential, you will have anger and negativity that can consciously and unconsciously come out in the workplace.

Aggressive Body Language Examples

aggressive body language in the workplace in context in the office environment

Leaders have a specific set of non-verbal behaviors that signify they are in control of others. We should be aware of numerous popular non-verbal cues when communicating with colleagues, managers, and clients. 

This includes body language like body posture, position, and eye contact. An example is to imagine a manager sitting in their chair with arms wide open versus someone hunched over and arms crossed in their lap. I think it’s safe to say we would pick the more open manager.

Few leaders will show outright aggressive behavior, but research has shown that many people feel negative actions daily. This is why it’s crucial to educate on aggressive body language in the workplace. Managers, or employees in higher roles, could be showing negative body language by refusing to nod or assuming a hostile posture or facial expression. These particular body language prompts suggest they are uninterested in what the employee says. 

An aggressive body language is a form of body language used to show dominance. Assertive body language can be seen in how someone holds themself, their walk, and how they look at another person.

There are many different types of aggressive body language:

Looking down, not making eye contact

Clenched fists

Arms crossed



Slapping hands on thighs

Hands-on hips


Slamming the door

Invading personal space

Positive Body Language In The Workplace

The way we physically carry ourselves is just as important as verbal communication in the workplace. Our posture, eye-focus, and even hand gestures can convey far more than we ever realized. Using positive language in the workplace can be a powerhouse of communication.

Demonstrating positive body language can help show you are friendly, enthusiastic, and committed to the team and projects ahead. It will show that you are sincere in your efforts to be a team player and will do all you can to help yourself openly communicate this with the team regularly.

An example of a positive body language trait is keeping eye contact with someone. Direct eye contact communicates that you profoundly listen and value what the other person is saying. While this will be hard at first, as it’s tempting to look away, keep with it, and it will become more natural over time. 

A good role is to maintain eye contact for a few seconds, then gently look away before coming back to repeat. You do not want to maintain direct eye contact during 100% of the conversation. This will seem a bit invasive and a challenge to hold realistically. We encourage you to practice it every day and watch how the communications and relationships improve around you.

Another positive body language skill is the use of posture. Your posture speaks volumes, and it is beneficial when you need to convey confidence and attentiveness. Good posture is sitting up straight and standing tall with a straight spine. Don’t be caught with slumped shoulders or holding your head at your desk. This mannerism comes across as you are uninterested and not present in the moment.

Proper posture shows that you are interested in the other person and the circumstances of the workforce around you. It can be an effective way to convey energy and show that you are happy and proud to be there. It’s also important to note that what you do with your body limbs can also distract others. Try not to over fidget with a pen or use your hands excessively to emphasize a point you are trying to make.

The last try is never to cross your arms when in a conversation with someone, as they can signal you are closed off and defensive. In a workplace, it can be essential to create a morning ritual for the office to ensure positivity and set up for a great day ahead. A morning routine can be everyone meeting for a 5-minute coffee or even having breakfast certain days of the week.

Language Cues In Context

Context is always crucial in any form of communication. This is why it’s exceptionally challenging to monitor language cues in the workplace context. It’s hard to decipher one gesture, especially if you do not know the person. Many people will use sarcastically passive-aggressive behaviors as a regular thing in their everyday lives.

You can use specific cues to figure out what an aggressive person is feeling. When reading body language, it’s essential to understand the context and its role in the workplace. For example, someone sitting in their chair with arms crossed could mean they are angry or just very comfortable. Versus if someone has their arms crossed and is leaning forward towards you, this might be an example of aggressive body language.

We encourage you to listen to your gut and pay attention to your surroundings when it comes to this. Don’t also assume that just because someone broke eye contact while speaking meant they were disinterested in speaking with you. Engage in your surroundings and understand that sometimes people are in a rush. It was nothing meant negatively towards you. If you are upset by the incident it can be useful to get outside and look for animals as they are known to have healing powers.

People tend to use two main styles of thought known as reflective and reactive thinking for helping the brain process information. They can vary from social aspects in your work and thought patterns in emotions and even everyday situations. By utilizing your reflective and reactive thinking skills can influence how you handle aggressive body language in the workplace.

If you keep having issues with a particular employee it might be beneficial to encourage a positive conversation with that person. Get to know them and their personality style and find out if there is tension between you. If there is tension, you can resolve it or ask for a manager to step in and assist. Sometimes it can be beneficial for a corporation to prioritize mental health in the workplace. This can be done with workshops prioritizing self-care activities and even including a monthly meditation class to your schedule.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are examples of aggressive body language?

There are many types of aggressive body language, but the most common in the workplace are pursed lips and people squinting.

What is aggressive body language?

Aggressive body language is a bold display of posture or gestures meant to threaten or intimidate another person.

Conclusion – Research by

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Before judging, we have to learn to read the body language correctly because aggressive body language is not uncommon in the workplace. 

Our researchers at FinditHealth hope this article has been of use to you and that you understand aggressive body language in more depth now.

Find It Health Editor in Chief Luz Chacon Health and Wellness Coach Giving You Advice

Luz Chacon

Luz Chacon is a Health Educator, Wellness Coach, and EFT Tapping Practitioner with 30+ years in health advocacy. Specializing in stress management, wellbeing, and holistic health, she created a 40% stress reduction employee program. Luz is dedicated to helping busy individuals prioritize self-care, break patterns, and reach goals. She offers programs for organizations and individuals. Luz is passionate about sharing her health research and guiding informed choices!

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Luz Chacon Health Coaches at Find It Health and Stress Management and Natural Holistic Health Coaches