Saturday, July 30, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 252: What do Over-Rated Actors,
News Reporters and Insincere People
Have in Common?

Do you recognize these eyebrows and this forehead? They belong to an actor who I believe is over-rated. He's good, but not great. He's successful primarily because his looks - and of course this same tendency is seen in virtually all other professions. The better looking get the upper hand. What is it that I see? A contraction of the central forehead along with an elevation of the inner (medial) eyebrows. This is a signal of pain - either emotional or physical pain. It can be pain that is personally being experienced or felt in empathy - for another person or creature. It also can be a signal of incredulousness - especially when there is a coexisting smile (even if it is a subtle smile). 

Now, this alone is not a sign of bad acting, but it certainly can be if it's overused. News reporters do this all the time. They have a difficult job, trying to "look" concerned when they have long-since grown numb to most everything they are reporting. When an actor/actress - or anyone else - chronically over-uses this signal, think INSINCERITY!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 321:
Body Language of a Surreal Horse -
Swagger, Success and Secretariat

An Incredibly interesting phenomenon of Body Language is that it can be applied cross-species. Talk to anyone who owns or has spent time around larger animals and they will give you a myriad of stories. Take for example, the above video clip from the CBS televised coverage of The Belmont Stakes on June 9, 1973. In winning this race, the super horse Secretariat set an all-time, World Record for 1.5 miles for any horse on any track surface (2:24.00). He won by an surreal 31 lengths (ahead of the second place horse, "Twice a Prince). Many of those who were very experienced in the world of sports, including professional athletes, who witnessed this event, will say it was the most impressive performance by any "athlete" in any sport - ever. Many of those who watched, both in-person and on T.V. were also moved to tears. The narrator ("Chic" Anderson) will call your attention to Secretariat's Body movement just prior to him be loaded into the starting gate (at 2:36 - 3:36 in this video) "...moving his head left and right ..... showing that kind of power bursting through the body...". You don't have to have extensive experience with horses to see Secretariat's walk of confidence. He truly has a swagger.

In the second video (ESPN Classic Series), Willam Nack, a sports journalist, author and consultant in Disney's 2010 Film, "Secretariat", described the wonder horse that morning before the Belmont Stakes as (2:50 through 3:09 in this video): "....The fittest I have ever seen a horse. His eyes were big as saucers (eyes opened widely in this context is indicative of an adrenaline surge). His nostrils were flared (which in humans is certainly very expected to see in emotional and physiologic preparation for "flight or fight" - another sign of adrenaline surging). He was nickering (Some interesting human equivalents are the "Kiai" in martial arts - or the "Haka" war chant of the Maori of New Zealand). His ears were Playing (... "ready to bolt"...). His muscles were rippling and he was walking on his hind legs.

A bit later in the ESPN video, Nack further describes Secretariat (3:42 - 3:50), "I'm looking at him and I'm thinking, I've never seen him walk like this before - he looks like the execution man. He's going to the gallows. He's about to dispatch somebody."

Silvan Tomkins, one of the pioneers of Body Language worked for a horse racing syndicate while in graduate school in the 1930's. Despite the fact that he did this during The Great Depression, he was able to make an impressive income and live "lavishly" on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Tomkins believed that the faces, body language and emotional history of any particular horse in different and specific contexts would be highly predictive of the horse's confidence and potential performance in a race. Tomkins was a genius at Body Language, particularly Facial Expression (Gladwell via Ekman). I wonder what he thought about Secretariat?

It is another curious phenomenon regarding animals and body language, that those who are raised around lager animals that require care - most commonly dogs and horses - will end up becoming adults with superior interpersonal communication skills. Most notably, their empathy skills will be highly developed.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 333: Pursed Lips:
Worth their weight in Gold

In this Photo, David Cameron, the current Prime Minister of The United Kingdom, displays mild to moderately pursed lips. This is a very reliable indicator that Mr. Cameron is in disagreement with another leader (Navarro). There is also a high likelihood that he has an alternative idea which he believes is superior (Brown). This is seen very frequently in business, politics and in personal life. It is an extremely valuable negotiation tool - although sometimes examples in the "every day world" are even more subtle, and thus not so easy to spot. Interestingly, when a person displays this signal, there is a significant chance that they will not voice their differences aloud - so be prepared for a clandestine "end-run".


Monday, July 25, 2011

Body Language Secret #101:
Physicians - Wherest thou Bedside Manner?

Why do so many physicians have bed-side manners that absolutely stink?

It is a curious observation, that for many physicians, perhaps greater than 50% or higher, the best their interpersonal skills will ever be, is when they graduate from Medical School or maybe in the first year thereafter. After that, it often is a downhill slide.  When they're 36 or 56, they'll hopefully will be much better diagnosticians, surgeons, and probably much better at running a medical office, but for an huge fraction of these educated, esteemed and otherwise successful group of professionals - their interpersonal skills (and sadly their intra-personal skills as well) diminishes - often significantly. It certainly doesn't have to be, nor thankfully is it true for all. Learning body language  - both the interpretation of others and projecting oneself in the proper context - is certainly a  significant, perhaps the most significant way to repair this communication abyss. 

Every physician believes they're good communicators, but most are not. Many stink at it. When it comes to medical litigation, the most common denominator is a failure at communicating in a friendly, accurately, punctual and empathetic way with their patients. This phenomenon quickly flows over into their personal lives. Just ask their spouses. Bluntly put - they're arrogant, impatient, patronizing, lack empathy, etc.- some serious personality issues. Of course, none of them believe in real-time (or for the very few who self-evaluate retrospectively) that they are being perceived in such ways - and this is certainly consistent with lack of self-awareness, ego-centrism and lack of empathy.  Body language skills (along with other skills such as paralanguage training) tightens and/or reconnects this feedback-loop.

Those docs who are truly patient-centered in their thinking and actions will not only virtually eliminate their medical-legal risk, they also benefit from significantly increased career-satisfaction and dramatically reduce burn-out. And then there's this little thing called reputation....go figure.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 279 & 317: Angela's Two Tells

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is not known for her poker face. Here she displays two classic facial expressions. Can you describe them? Her mouth has taken on the classic morphology of moderate fear. Her lips are pulled outwards and down very tightly. The jaw is pulled backwards and her chin is wrinkled as well. Her neck muscles are also tightened. All of these are classic signs of fear. 

Another facial signal that may accompany fear, but may also be present with other emotions - is her bilateral eye closure (eye blocking). This is a subconscious attempt by the mind to temporarily block the object of fear, contempt, disgust, etc. - as if to say, "If I close my eyes for a second, this may go away." The fact that even those who are born blind, still routinely exhibit this signal, speaks to the deeply rooted nature of body language.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Romance and Dating Secret # 214: Dangling Shoe

When a woman dangles her shoe on her toes as in this picture, this is always a sign of comfort with other the person(s) nearby and it is usually a sign of sexual interest. The foot is typically pointed at the person of her desire.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 175:
Dominance Display at Wimbledon

Who would you guess just won this recent Wimbledon tennis match? If this were in a corporate setting, who would you say is the CEO? If these two were political office holders, who would hold the higher ranking office? It probably doesn't surprise you that the answer would be the same for all three question. Here, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga just defeated Roger Federer in the quarter-finals at the 2011 Wimbledon Tournament. His hands-on gesture here is a dominance display allowed only for the winner, boss or senior in the pecking-order.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 192:
Perception Disparity, Insincerity, Fear and Rupert Murdoch

Rupert  Murdoch, his son James and Rebeka Brooks were grilled today before a British Parliamentary Committee as part of the investigation for the rapidly growing phone hacking scandal by the recently defunct News of the World

Rupert Murdoch's statement (at 1:12-1;16 in the video above): "...this is the most humble day of my life." - is demonstrative for several considerable insincerity tells. His forehead and brow expressions during this statement to the Parliamentary Committee were consistent with anger while his mouth shows evidence of what is referred to as "Duping Delight" (Paul Ekman). An example of duping delight in a microexpression can be seen at 5:06 in the video below (clustered with a bilateral brow flash and head tilt which in this setting indicates an incredulous and patronizing emotional mindset. There are multiple other microexpressions as well as subtle expressions of duping delight seen through Mr. Rupert Murdoch's testimony.

Duping delight is significant in that a person feels he's getting away with something and moreover takes pleasure in pulling the wool over our eyes. None of the examples sited in the above paragraph are consistent with a sincerity. 

James Murdoch (Rupert's son) shows signs of considerable nervousness - both for himself and for his father. Notice how his eyelids (particularly his upper eyelids) are opened so widely. In this context, this is a clear demonstration of fear. In fairness, he could very well be in fear of being falsely accused - and the ramifications of such, but he feels considerable fear throughout much of his testimony.

Wendi Deng-Murdoch (Rupert's wife) demonstrates a moderate amount of nervousness during key questioning directed at her husband (she is sitting behind Rupert in a Pink top). Neither James or Wendi has a lot of confidence in Rupert's ability to testify. James wanted to reach out and stop his father from pounding with his palm (and subsequently pounding with a hand-chop), but he refrained himself (1:31 in second video). Wendi did in fact reach out and do this and it can be clearly seen at 1:46 in the second video.

I find it interesting that none of these individuals, so wealthy and so "Worldly" were prepped (or prepped more thoroughly) before such an important and public appearance. Many smart, wealthy and otherwise successful people are extremely un-objective when it comes to how they believed they are being perceived and how they are actually perceived. This is what I refer to as "Perception Disparity" - and it will frequently lead to lost sales, lost elections, litigation, victimization, jail time and divorces. What's particularly interesting is that, for the vast majority of the time, those who have more formal education - and even advanced degrees, are considerably more guilty of these mistakes - faux pas 101. Many doctors and attorneys are very guilty of this. 

As we endeavor to climb our various socioeconomic ladders, we would be remiss if we don't use body language skills and other similar tools to stay objective - particularly in situations where bias is extremely strong. Ouch!


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 136:
What is Rupert Murdoch's Sincerity Quotient?

Rupert Murdoch will be grilled next week in front a British Parliamentary Committee.  One would expect that he'll be nervous. What about honest? Sincere? If you were one of those who will be be questioning him, would you be able to tell? Would you know exactly when to dig deeper? Are you sure? What do the position of Rupert's hands tell us here? In particular, what is the significance of his interlocked  fingers? What does the configuration of his mouth, especially his lips mean? What does the position of his forehead tell you about his sincerity? What is his overall "Sincerity Quotient" in this photo?

Body language is an extremely valuable tool in the detection of lies. Being able to qualify and quantify sincerity however, is sometimes more valuable. Those who are chronically insincere will eventually hurt you (probably sooner than later). Sincerity (vs. insincerity) casts a broader net than honesty (vs. deception).  If someone is lying to you, they are being insincere;  but all those who are insincere are not necessarily lying to you ..... yet. We all try to avoid being in relationships with insincere people. In the business world, we certainly want to keep our distance too. But can YOU really tell when another is being insincere? Are you sure?


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Body Language at The FIFA World Cup
Fiero after Accomplishment

Fiero is a word coined by Italian Psychologist Isabella Poggi. It is a term which describes a unique emotion that is often seen after sporting events, but it's certainly not limited to athletic events alone. It is felt and seen after a difficult problem is overcome whether the obstacle is physical, emotional, intellectual, financial, etc. - and regardless of  it's origin, once a significant problem is overcome and a great accomplishment is achieved, fiero is the name given to describe this emotion.

It is interesting that although English has more total words than any other language, it doesn't have as many words which describe the different positive emotions as many other languages. It needs more. The word "Fiero" is Italian in origin.  In this photo American football/soccer player, Abby Wambach, experiences fiero after scoring the go-ahead goal in the semi-final match against the France.  The posture of arms up and moving rapidly, running wildly and jumping are highly typical of fiero.  Ms. Wambach's' facial expression is also highly consistent - shouting, mouth open extra wide with teeth bared (including the bottom teeth)  - interestingly similar to, but not identical to, extreme pain and anger - is demonstrated well after her team's victory.  Note how her eyes are nearly closed as well.  After a few seconds to a minute or so, just after the accomplishment is achieved, these very extreme facial expressions resembling pain and anger are replaced by classic emotional expressions of pure and extreme joy. This is displayed well below where Ms. Wambach is sharing this with team-mate, Hope Solo.  It is here in these post-fiero moments, where you will see some of the most sincere examples of smiles and happiness.

Fiero does not need an audience.  It is not braggadocio in nature. We all can recall moments when we felt fiero and we were alone - but like all positive emotions it is much more enjoyable when shared.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Romance and Dating Secret # 203: Parallel Legs

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, actress, singer and wife of France's President Sarkozy, is shown here in a configuration known as "Parallel Legs". When sitting, 85% of men feel this is the most attractive posture a woman can assume. It is a pose often taught in modeling classes. The contour formed when the legs press against each accentuates muscle tone and thus gives a more youthful appearance.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 135: Negative Clustering

This image of Johnny Depp is a great example of a Critical Evaluation Cluster (B. & A. Pease). A "Cluster" is when two or more body language signals occurring simultaneously or in a very short period of time (two or three seconds) - that when congruent with each other, is consistent with a very high degree of accuracy. Here, Mr. Depp's mouth is slightly tightened (mild anger), the entire width of his forehead is contracted (here, apprehensive/incredulous), while he is self-touching his right eye brow (here, anxiety associated with disbelief). In addition, Johnny is not looking directly at the person(s) to who(m) these emotions are directed. We don't look directly at those we don't like, don't respect or don't believe. Johnny Depp is one of the most respected and most liked actors of our time - but here he's not acting. Thanks for the lesson Mr. Depp.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Romance and Dating Secret # 202: Revealed in a Kiss -
Prince Albert and Princess Charlene

Both Prince Albert of Monaco and his new Princess/Wife Charlene (formerly Charlene Wittstock) both show us (and the World) multiple emotional tells shown in this YouTube video Clip of their Civil Wedding Ceremony on Friday 1 July 2011. Prince Albert is extremely nervous as evidenced by his facial tick. At first this looks like multiple winks of his left eye, but if you watch it carefully, you'll see this is involuntary. These are coexistent with microexpressions of contempt. We don't know who(m) this contempt is directed at - but he is feeling it rather strongly. He also displays a very classic display of a microexpression of fear. His blink rate is considerably more than normal, which is yet another display of anxiety.

Interestingly, the Princess is much less nervous. But what is more demonstrable on Charlene's face is a great example of a subtle contempt display (while the display is subtle, the contempt is considerable) - immediately followed by sadness.  

In the above photo, when the couple kisses in the Public Ceremony, the Prince looks nervous once again, and while he closes his eyes before the kiss, he opens them during the kiss. This lack of eye closure during the kiss is a very reliable indicator that true affection was not the primary emotion he was feeling at that moment. If one repeatedly keeps his/her eyes open during kisses with their romantic partner, this is a signal that affection is waning, has waned or perhaps was never there to begin with.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 127: What the Eyes Do

Chicago Mayor (and former White House Chief-of-Staff) Rahm Emanuel and former President Bill Clinton are seen here at the Clinton Global Initiative American Conference. When another encroaches into our personal space, there is a very strong and visceral impetus to turn our eyes away. Obviously both men are looking away from each other in this photo. Particularly, during the moment of a handshake, eye contact is incredibly important in demonstrating sincerity, trust and building rapport. Anything that diminishes eye contact should be avoided. Of particular importance in this example, the lack of eye contact is a symptom of the diminished comfort felt when personal space is invaded. Being very aware of what makes others comfortable or uncomfortable requires a continuous mindset of empathy and a de-focusing on oneself. Simple in concept...difficult in implementation.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 133:
Surprise or a Smile or Neither?

Blake Lively is certainly one of Hollywood's most attractive young starlets. In this image, Blake has a classic False Smile though. It is commonly known as a False-Surprised Smile or Dropped Jaw Smile (B. & A. Pease).  With a true, felt smile - the forehead is relaxed - but Ms. Lively's forehead is contracted across its entire width.  With true surprise, the expression is very brief - nearly always less than a second or two.  We cannot tell the duration of Blake's expression, of course, because this is a photo. It is valuable to keep this in mind though - for if you see a surprised expression, and it lasts longer than 1 or 2 seconds, at least a portion of it (or perhaps the entire emotion) is being faked or exaggerated. This is a red flag - dig deeper.

Another sure sign that this is not true surprise, is that Ms. Lively's eyelids are not opened wide.  With true surprise, the eyelids are opened wide enough to see the whites of the eyes (sclera) ABOVE the iris (colored part of the eye).

Blake Lively - beautiful but not believable (here in this photo). Blake is not surprised, nor is this a sincere smile, but a common expression that looks (to most people) like both, but is neither. Things are not always as they seem. Don't get fooled by professional actors or those around you whose motives may be questionable.

See also:

Secret # 702: Mouth of Fear, Trying to Smile and Forehead of Pain

Analysis # 2: Body Language of Blake Lively and Penn Badgley Strongly Suggests an Impending Break-up in Near Future

Nonverbal Communication Secret # 2091: Sincere Smiling (a la' Blake Lively) and Laughing Reduces Anxiety and  Heart Rate, Boosts Immune System and Relieves Pain

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2203: A Body Language Metric of Intimacy and Affection -  How Do YOU cuddle?