Friday, March 25, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 89:
Opposite Facing Arms Akimbo

This is a rare photo, as it shows an example of two variations of "Arms Akimbo" in the same moment on the same person. Karima El Marhrough, who has been accused of being Silvio Berlusconi's (Italy's Prime Minister) underaged lover, has her right hand on her hip in a fingers-forward position, while her left hand is displayed in a thumbs forward fashion (see Negotiation Secret # 555: How Facial Expressions Correlate with Palm Position). While the left hand demonstrates a supportive and fostering mindset (beta personality), her right hand shows a defensive, assertive, alpha mindset. Although I do not know the context of this image, it is almost certainly a moment of transition from when she felt relaxed-supportive and was confronted with something unpleasant.  In another few seconds, both hands will be fingers-forward.  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Relationship Secret # 21:
Surprise + Fear + Empathy

This image shows an example of three strong emotions combined in a single moment.  These three people are watching the one of the World Trade Center Towers Collapse on September 11, 2001.  The elevated positions of the eyes lids, eye brows and foreheads are consistent with surprise and fear. These are most pronounced and more evident on the two women.  

Surprise is the most fleeting of all emotions and is almost always followed by another strong emotion such as fear, anger or embarrassment. The woman who is pointing, has a mouth posture that is transitioning from surprise to fear.

Whenever you see this eye/upper facial appearance coupled with a quick covering of the mouth, there is either extreme disbelief-surprise, strong fear, profound empathy - or all three being felt.  If you watch any media from the Sendai Earthquake-Tsunami, you'll probably find yourself adopting a similar expression many times.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Relationship Secret # 33:
Grief and Affection in Japan

This poignant image shows a mother and daughter who survived the recent Sendai, Japan Earthquake-Tsunami.  It demonstrates two strong emotions - both Grief and Affection.  The mother's mouth is intensely pulled up and outwards.  There is a very significant contracture of her cheek musculature as well. In fact, if one covers the top half of her face, beginners will often mistake her mouth for that of a smile.  Her intense eyelid closure is particularly consistent with severe grief, although it is also normal to close one's eyelids during a purely (without superimposed grief) affectionate hug.  The tilting of her head, pulling-in of her daughter into her neck/chest, along with full hand/palm contact demonstrates the extreme affection she feels towards her daughter.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 83: The Subtle Turn-Away

This is a great photo of a subtle example of dislike of the question or questioner. Here, President Obama has his head slightly turned away from the reporter during a press conference in the East Room of the White House.  We have a strong tendency to not look directly at those whom we don't like, don't trust, disrespect or when reliability or motive is questioned.  President Obama shows us another subtle sign which is congruent with a head turn in this context - a very slight narrowing of the eye opening/coming together of the eyelids.  If this were a video, we would see its very fleeting and dynamic nature.  There is often a simultaneous pulling back of the head (very subtle here) and a slight tightening of the face in the "mustache area". As this emotion grows, this tightening will progress to include nostril dilation (not present here) which is indicative of disgust, or contempt if it's unilateral.

Like most modern presidents, Mr. Obama is very skilled at the nuances of expressing what he wants in any given situation - and yet even the Masters will display tells. Most everyone can see extreme examples of emotion, but it continues to amaze me how few otherwise social adept and skilled people can spot moderate, let alone subtle examples of very common emotions. This is one of the great advantages of becoming proficient at body language - for the emotions are still present - they're just being camouflaged. Recognizing them will give you an extreme advantage.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Negotiation Secrets # 102 and 122:
Two Critical Evaluation Emblematic Slips

Michel Camdessus, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, listens during a press conference in Lyon, France. His finger over his mouth is an example of a specific Emblem. Of course, we all recognized this as children - "Be Quiet!", "Shsssss!", "Don't Speak!".  But another critical detail here is that the finger doing the "Shssssing" is his middle finger (his index finger is supporting his chin) - thus Mr. Camdessus is displaying a second, particularly caustic, emblem.

An emblem is a very specific signal that has a precise meaning and is ubiquitously understood within a culture or geographic area. When done in overtly, in the conventional position, everyone recognizes it. But in the everyday, it is often subtle and camouflaged - and it "slips out" subconsciously (Ekman). So while we all know when a teacher is attempting to quiet and unruly classroom, or one driver "flips off" another for cutting in front of them - when these emblems get packaged up and delivered by our subconsciousness in a subtly different position - they can slip by us and are more difficult to see. 

While there are several other signs of critical evaluation seen in this photo, there is no doubt that Mr. Camdessus doesn't like what he's hearing - moreover, he doesn't like the speaker at all.  If you see this while you're negotiating a contract, you're in for a steep uphill climb. If you see this during a discussion with your boss - polish you resume' ASAP!