Sunday, November 20, 2011

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 703:
Putin Pulling his Puppet

This photo is for anyone who doubts who is the real puppet master. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is very obviously angry at his President Dmitry Medvedev - but let's dissect this photo. Always the alpha dog, Putin is red-faced. The Russian President's distended veins (most obviously on his left temple) indicate an (unconscious) valsalva maneuver. Both of these nonverbal signs are consistent with a momentary increase in blood pressure and decreased venous return - ergo in this context, anger. Additionally, his head is tilted down, while his eyebrows are pulled together and lowered - all body language cues for anger. Another indication of this emotion is Vladimir's mid-face tightening - particularly to the sides of his nose, and also (although it's difficult to tell from this angle) nostril dilation. Finally Mr. Putin's jaw is jutting forward. Put all these signals together and they constitute a body language "Cluster" of anger. If we were in this meeting - we'd love to know what he was saying - but we wouldn't really have to, because we'd know what he was feeling.