Monday, March 5, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1233:
Putin's Pointing Pen

If you're President Vladimir Putin, a member of the local school board or anyone in between, it is best not to offend. One sure fire way to alienate people is to point at them with the "traditional index finger point". This is deliberately derogatory in many cultures and offensive in all others. Even if you're in agreement with the person doing the pointing and the opinion he/she is expressing, it will provoke and antagonize you. One nonverbal alternative (although not the only or the best way) is to point with a pen or pencil as a surrogate for the finger. This tends to soften the provocative nature of "the point" compared with the index finger. 

It is also incredible to note, and as the "new"/old Russian President is demonstrating here, that by pointing with a closed pen or the "eraser end" of a pencil - this will soften this body language even further. When the pencil eraser method as well as other less antagonistic (and more rapport building) body language ways to "point" are used - these methods tend to concomitantly "soften" the face too. That is, when the hands are less "angry" the face will show less negative (and more positive) emotions - and vice versa. The hands and the face strongly emotionally mirror each other - thus observing one will often give hints as to what the other is "feeling".

See also: Secret # 349: Pointing with Two Fingers (or more)

See also: Secret # 339: Don't Point at Me! I'm Not Your Child!

See also: Secret # 35: A Friendlier Way to Point