Friday, December 16, 2011

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 375:
Signals of Confidence,
Non-Engagement and Defeat

In the Sioux City Republican debate last night, Newt Gingrich used a modified version of the basketball steeple. His variation shown here, is with his hands more widely apart than usual - and he also tends to use a vertical-chop motion. The vertical-chop is dynamic is not necessarily advisable - as it can transmit negative emotions if used too often or too forcefully. 

In general though, the basketball steeple is a very good gesture to use. Unlike the conventional steeple (which is dramatically over-used by those in power positions and large egos), the basketball steeple projects feelings of confidence and authority - without arrogance. Unless the conventional steeple is used very sparingly and strategically it will signal patronizing and condescending emotions (See: Negotiation Secret # 277: The Conventional Steeple: Use it on Rare Events and in Small Doses).

A negative nonverbal displayed here by Mitt Romney - is that incredibly, he's has his placed left hand (and perhaps his right one as well) in his pants pocket. Stop doing this Mitt! Any debate coach will tell you that this sends messages of non-engagement and acquiescence - which are two signals you never want to send when you're running for President! It's as if you're conceding a point to Newt here. Putting hands in our pockets will even make us feel and thus become less confident. When you're on stage - you never want to over-alpha the crowd (see Gov. Rick Perry's negative example in: A tale of two Ricks .....), but you also never want to appear - and thus become too beta either.