Definition of Status
"Status is a misleading concept unless one understands it as something that one does. One can have a low social status and still play high and vice versa."
Status does not denote social standing but, rather, the active relationship between people. No behavior is really by chance or without motive, Status is always involved. When two people meet on the street, then their Status relationship is established through scarcely noticeable things like their eye contact. Whomever maintains his glance the longest, or first looks away without immediately looking back, is the "higher"; whomever glances at the other and then looks away with uncertainty is the "lower."
One probably should talk about dominance and subjection, but the concept of high Status and low Status is more neutral and has fewer negative connotations.
"A comic is someone who is paid to lower his Status or that of the other."
Comedy is based to a large degree on the Status principle. The classic scene of the man who slips on a banana peel is only funny when he loses Status. If President Clinton slipped on the peel, that would be unbelievably funny, but if our fragile grandmother fell, we would be shocked and hurry to help her. The prerequisite is that the audience has empathy for the performer. The great classical tragedies function by the same principle. It's expected that the tragic figure preserves his dignity even in death. If he gives up his Status and cries miserably, then we must have sympathy for him and the "greatness" of his sacrifice is lost.
In daily life, each plays his own preferred Status, that is the Status that gives him the most certainty. It doesn't matter if one plays a high Status ("Warning, bites") or low Status ("Don't bite, I'm not worth the effort"), one tries to maneuver oneself into the preferred position.
There are a number of ways to actively influence your Status and I want to indicate only a few examples. A relaxed position of the head while speaking, an open body position with direction but without hasty movements, a relaxed, full voice using complete sentences, as well as keeping eye contact, are techniques that raise your own Status.
Tense head movements in speaking, sentences that begin with "uh," a closed body position, frequent non-relaxed expressions of the face or head, create a behavioral pattern which reduces Status. The meanings of these points which make the principle of Status clear will be discussed in the following.