Friday, January 29, 2010

Dialing up the Anxiety

Interlocked and extended fingers are a sign of increased anxiety.  If you see a person begin to do this, especially during conversation, an interview, etc., you should ask yourself what caused him to adopt this posture.  It is very likely a question that what was just asked which evokes anxiety. This is a great signal. You would be well advised to delve deeper and ask additional (open ended) questions which will get to the root of the problem.  

In this photo, Dusan Ivkovic, the coach of the Serbian national basketball team is seen answering questions at a press conference just prior to the 2010 FIBA World Basketball Championship.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Negotiation secret # 301: Angela Merkel's Expressions of Fear

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel is showing a great example of a mild to moderate fear expression in this photograph.  The most obvious signs here are noted in her mouth, jaw and the neck.  Her lips are characteristically stretched backwards and down-turned at the corners.  With more extreme fear the lips are more widely parted (often baring the lower teeth) and stretched back even further, giving a more pronounced downward curve to both the upper and lower lips. The jaw (mandible) often pulls dramatically backwards, but here it is only modestly expressed.

Chancellor Merkel's eyes are opened to a degree - that is for her normal. This example demonstrates a  mild to moderate (and probably very brief - e.g. a "Microexpression" of fear) with essentially no involvement of the eyes. Sometimes, the eyes can be the primary display of fear though - even in subtle scenarios. In more dramatic examples of fear both the eyes and the mouth are involved. The eyes are in these cases are opened wider, often much wider, than normal. In such examples there is also a muscular-facial tension evident in the lower eyelids.  Her eyebrow's which are only mildly elevated and slightly drawn together here - would be even further elevated and together with more severe levels of fear.  

Pay close attention to Ms. Merkel's neck - all the muscles in the neck are tightened up.  This action, along with a pulling back of the head, neck and jaw -  can often create ridges of double and triple chins - which disappear when the jaw and neck are relaxed again.

I was not present at this conference, nor did I see video.  While this is an excellent and unmistakable example of subtle fear, I don't know how long this expression lasted.  This may have been a Macroexpression - lasting longer than 0.5 seconds, but it is an extremely common example of a microexpression. Microexpressions are unconscious actions and last as "long" as 0.5 seconds and are as fleeting as 0.04 seconds. Microexpressions occur with many emotions - not just fear. I see many examples, often hundreds or even thousands of these every day. A microexpression is a very reliable sign of an emotion and once you learn to recognize them, they will enable you read the hearts and minds of many a person.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 27: Lying Mt. Climber / Nose Rub

This is Austrian mountain climber Christian Stangl during a press conference in Vienna. He had claimed to have summited K2, the World's second tallest mountain, and also tried to prove it with a photograph.  He later retracted his claim.  When someone tells a lie, you should always see three or more signs in a short period of time which are consistent with lying or which contradict what they say verbally - before you conclude they are lying.  This photograph shows a nose rub, which is one of the more common and reliable signs of lying-associated-anxiety.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Controlled Anger & Disdain for Question

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague is angered and repulsed by a question at a news conference recently in London. His head and neck are pulled away from the questioner and so are his shoulders somewhat. Also consistent with anger is his active squint.  To add to this list, his lips are considerably compressed, the corners of his mouth are slightly down-turned and his nostrils are slightly flared. 

I'm not sure if Mr. Hague wanted to appear angry, but I seriously doubt it.  It's the vary rare person who realizes his anger "in real-time" and it's exceedingly rare for a person to be aware of the crescendo of the pre-anger state.  Those who study and practice non-verbal communication, while certainly not perfect, improve in this area dramatically.