Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 367: Insincere Smile -
Van Rompuy needs some Acting Classes

Greek Prime Minister George Papadreou is arguably got one of the toughest jobs in the World right now. Everyone is watching to see what's next in the Greek Debt Crisis. Here Papadreou is seen shaking hands in a posed photo shoot with Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council. If you search for images of Van Rompuy, in the majority of photos where he looks like he is trying to smile, he is only smiling out of the left side of his mouth. This is an incredibly common Body Language signal in general - and so very characteristic of Herman - it's almost as if he has a medical problem where he cannot smile with his right side - but this is not so. His attempt at smiling is insincere at best. The conscious brain is attempting to smile, but the unconscious brain doesn't feel joy, ergo it won't let a full smile appear. Interestingly, when there is an asymmetric smile - with most people, the majority of time - it is the left side of the mouth that "smiles" while the right side remains neutral or even frowns (Pease). There is also more than a bit of nonverbal contempt displayed by Van Rompuy here as well. He hasn't got an easy job either.