Protesting to his grandfather, King Joffrey says to Tywin Lannister: “But I haven't been counseled.” With a thousand-yard stare, the Hand of the King replies:
“You are being counseled at this very moment.”
Tywin Lannister. The only man even the King is afraid of. As anyone who watched Game of Thrones knows, Tywin commands the attention of both the viewer and characters like no other. He’s the most powerful man in Westeros, and you feel that power every time he is on screen.
Commanding attention is a useful yet underrated life skill. You can use it to your advantage in formal scenarios, such as job interviews, or informal ones, such as making friends or a first date. You’re making yourself the center of attention without explicitly asking for it.
This article analyzes the traits Tywin exhibits every time he is onscreen that could prove useful in your life.
Maintaining Eye Contact
In one of the show’s standout moments, Tyrion, his son, is on trial. Tywin is questioning him and eventually finds Tyrion guilty. Not to be outdone, Tyrion demands a trial by combat, matching his father’s stare. The episode ends with both of them stabbing each other with their gaze (2:58):
It’s a rare moment where another character matches Tywin’s aura. It’s also one of the core aspects of his persona. When he is talking to someone, he rarely takes his eyes away from theirs. It puts the other characters under pressure, almost challenging them to a duel.
Tywin nearly always wins.
This power is not exclusive to the Hand of the King, however. Looking into someone’s eyes shows you are engaged in conversation. You’re there. You’re present, and you’re not backing down.
Just as Tywin does, you’re also challenging someone. You’re saying, “I am giving you my undivided attention. Are you willing to give me yours?” So when Tyrion matches his stare, the audience knows Tywin has met his match.
Knowing When To Speak and How To Say It
Tywin never speaks too much. He rarely ever speaks first. He nearly always says the right words and has a unique ability that gives every word substance. It’s as if he has given intense thought to everything he’s said. This is in large part due to the terrific performance of Charles Dance, but also the writing.
When his daughter, Queen Cersei, visits him, he doesn’t look up or say anything. He continues working. Cersei likes to think she’s like her father. She’s used to everyone bowing down to her and firmly believes she commands attention wherever she goes.
But she doesn’t command her father’s attention.
Tywin doesn’t acknowledge her presence for some time. She squirms, looking around the room for an answer. She eventually speaks first, losing the battle and confirming she is not the one in charge, despite being Queen.
The next time you’re on a date, for instance, remember the value of silence. When you finish a story, it might be tempting to carry on in an attempt to avoid ‘awkward silence. Instead, stop speaking and take a breath. The pause prevents you from overtalking and you can easily command authority by knowing when you’re done. More importantly, you avoid rambling. Besides, your date will likely see the silence as their turn to talk, organically continuing the conversation.
Tywin is also a master at the “low and slow” speaking technique lawyers use. Law students are taught to lower their voice when highlighting a certain point, as it signals to your audience they need to pay attention and remember what you’re saying.
Tywin never forces proceedings. If he did, he would lose all the power. Shutting up at the right time shows you have self-restraint, and even if you didn’t think about what you were going to say, it looks like you did.
Using Whatever Physicality You Have To Your Advantage
Tywin Lannister is old and skinny. We see him ride into battle once but never see him kill anyone directly. Yet, his physicality imposes itself on all characters he crosses paths with.
There is one scene that stands out, which I mentioned at the start. Tywin enters the throne room, where King Joffrey is sat. Joffrey is sprawled in the Iron Throne, highlighting his arrogance. As they begin speaking, Tywin at the bottom of the stairs beneath Joffrey. At that moment, it looks like the King is in charge. Not for long.
Joffrey complains the small council is not holding their meetings where he would like. Tywin doesn’t say anything. Instead, he slowly walks up the stairs. Now looking down at the King, he says:
“We could arrange to have you carried.”
In other words, “we’re having the meeting right where I want it.” Joffrey then moves uncomfortably on his throne. He’s not in charge.
Most of the time, you won’t be putting a petulant King in his place. However, as Tywin shows, you don’t need to be huge to command a physical presence.
On a first date or in a group setting, leaning toward someone is a sign you’re interested in them, according to body language expert Paul Hokemeyer. The same applies to job interviews. By unfolding your arms, you’re showing interest. You’re stating your intent.
Say Who You Are Without Actually Saying It
In another lesson to Joffrey, Tywin says:
“Any man who must say, ‘I am the king’ is no true king.”
He then promptly sends the supposed most powerful man in Westeros to bed. Tywin is the King without a crown. He doesn’t want one, nor does he need one. He knows who he is.
He is power.
You can command authority too. By maintaining eye contact, knowing when to speak, and using your physicality, you can show you mean business without begging for it. Use these skills to get your class to listen to you, portray yourself as desirable to a potential partner, or put a petulant King in his place. It’s up to you.