Thursday, April 12, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1531:
Hillary Clinton Describing the
Osama Bin Laden Navy SEAL Raid at the
U.S. Naval Academy, 10 April 2012

This is a very interesting video segment of the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, recently speaking at the Naval Academy. Although there are many body language examples in this clip, several are particularly noteworthy.

Mrs. Clinton was asked what was going through her mind during the time of the raid wherein U.S. Navy SEALs confronted and killed Osama Bin Laden. Her recap of those moments is encapsulated in her own words.

The Secretary of State was in a very real sense, re-living those moments, as we and her audience were, to a lesser degree, when we first listened to her description of these events. Increased adrenaline (epinephrine) was flowing through her blood stream, as it would be for anyone in a similar setting. This increased sympathetic nervous system tone (among many other physiologic changes) yields the particular nonverbal change of elevated upper eyelids (and retracted lower eyelids as well although these are more difficult to see) aka her eyes were"White and Wide" at multiple times during the video (e.g. time-marks 0:06, 0:08, 0:12, 0:16, 0:34, 0:36, 0:51, 1:20, etc.).

In addition, behind Hillary Clinton is a Naval Officer (a Captain) who, when Mrs. Clinton at the 0:42 - 0:46 time mark says, "... so we were in real-time, aware of what was happening .... " performs an eye-cheek-nose rub on his right side at the 0:48 - 0:49 mark. The timing of this particular nonverbal in this context is highly suggestive of the Captain thinking something similar to the following: "You may THINK you were real-time aware of what was happening, but I've been in the fog of war and there's NO WAY YOU WERE EVEN CLOSE to being aware of what was REALLY happening ....". Who could blame him for feeling this? Beneath every uniform is a human being with real emotions.

Mrs. Clinton also displays at multiple times, during the 1:20 - 1:26 marks, full palm-contact touches of her upper sternum/chest. The fact that her whole hand was touching (and not just her finger tips) indicates a high amount of empathy for those involved in this mission.

See also:

Secret # 665: A Strong Sign of Insincerity

Secret # 102: Palm vs. Fingers 

Secret # 1117: Adele's Six Grammys 

Secret # 221: Spontaneous Mouth Covering & Empathy

Secret # 1455: Ann Romney, The Illinois Primary and Sincerity