Sunday, October 16, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 441:
The Political Point - How Not to Use It

Herman Cain has recently enjoyed a tremendous boost in the polls. Some even have him on top as the current Republican favorite for the U.S. 2012 Presidential election. In the last decade or so, one Body Language gesture that a lot of political candidates have begun to use is the "Political or Politician's Point". This is where the "okay" sign (the index finger and thumb touching to form an oval-shape) is used as opposed to traditional pointing with the just the index finger extended and the rest of the hand in a fist/near fist. The traditional index finger point is very negatively received in the vast majority of cultures and should be strongly avoided. People interpret the finger point as a strong sign of arrogance and will feel patronized.

Mr. Cain isn't pulling off the "politician's point" though. The remaining three fingers should not be closed in a near-fist as Herman is doing here, rather they should be loose. He is also pinching with the index finger and thumb. Properly done, the connection of these two digits should also be relaxed - forming an approximate oval, rather than a pinched off tear-drop shape. This semi-fist and pinching are signals of emotional tension.

What the hands are doing - influences the face. Emotional tension in the hand(s) will cause and/or correlate with negative facial expressions. Herman Cain's face is clearly displaying contempt. Contempt does not engender the heart's of the electorate. Contempt will lose votes. It is indeed a rare situation where a candidate should display contempt. If Mr. Cain, and the rest of us, relax our hands, our faces will relax (and vice versa). Look for emotional clues in one and you will find them in the other.