Saturday, February 18, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1177:
The Bitter Smile

Mitt Romney thinks he's smiling. Believe it or not, when the vast majority of people make this expression, they believe they are making a slight smile. Paul Ekman terms this a "Bitter Smile". This particular concave-downward appearance of Mr. Romney's mouth is a fantastic demonstration of how, when we are experiencing strong emotions - particularly negative ones - we are do not have accurate "Emotional Proprioception". 

The former Massachusetts Governor's lips are turned inward as well (an "Inward Lip Roll", aka ILR), indicating he's trying to control a negative emotional display. It more than leaks out though, and for virtually all observers - while they cannot label and give a dissertation on an ILR, the combination of these two body language signals/cluster leaves them with an intuitively negative feeling.

How aware are you of your own bitter smile?