Friday, February 19, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 357: Fear in his Eyes

This is a great photo because it calls our attention to this drivers eyes.  It is just before the start of the race and  he is experiencing a mild to moderate amount of fear.  His upper eyelids are wider open than in a normal, resting state and his lower eyelids are mildly tensed.  This is a common expression in the pre-race setting - even for experienced drivers with many victories.  It is easy to detect someone experiencing an extreme amount of fear - detecting moderate or mild fears is more difficult but much more useful in our everyday lives.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Grief in Shanksville on 9/11

This is a very common gesture cluster consistent with sadness.  In this photo, Gerald Bingham, father of Mark Bingham, who perished on flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, shows a wrinkling of the muscles in the center of his forehead, while the outer (lateral) portions of his forehead is wrinkle-fee.  This is the take home point in this photo - for in this context, it is a very distinctive and universal expression of grief.

Additionally, Mr. Bingham's eyes are closed, his head (neck) is down-turned and his mouth is covered. These four signs, when exhibited together, are a common gesture cluster of Sadness.  This photograph was taken at a memorial service for the passengers and crew of flight 93, so we all know the context, and given this knowledge - it's easy to interpret.  In our day-to-day lives, this cluster - and thus the emotion, is often missed in an acquaintance, co-worker, friend or even family member.  When we lack context and insight into another's heart and mind, we need to be much more observant and reflective - and this is one of many situations where understanding nonverbal communication is wonderfully beneficial.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Invading Personal Space

This is a great example of an invasion of personal space.  Here, Steve Spagnuolo, the head coach of the St. Louis Rams, gives a one armed hug to Navy officer Chris Scholl.  On the sporting field, men will often hug, slap, show affection and commaraderie for each other - that the same men wouldn't show off the field.  While it may be okay for a coach to hug "his men" on the sidelines of this televised game, this permission is not granted by everyone, certainly not by an officer in uniform. Coach Spagnuolo forgets this here.  

Navy officer Scholl shows several signs of his disapproval for this PDA.  He is leaning slightly away from coach Spagnuolo, and although his head is partially turned toward the coach, officer Scholl's body remains pointed straight ahead. This is always a very strong sign that the affection is not reciprocated. Chris Scholl's eyes are also slightly narrowed (a la' Clint Eastwood) and his mouth is closed in a slight frown. His arms remain locked at his side as well.