Monday, April 23, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1698:
Susan Rice, Bashar Ja'afari &
Kofi Annan's Six Point Peace Plan for Syria

In this Video of United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice and her Syrian Counterpart, Bashar Ja'afari, some very instructive body language signals are seen. Overall, Ambassador Rice displays very good use of her hands. Her use of the particular "Illustrator" - the "Basketball Steeple" - at the very beginning of this segment, is relatively underutilized by stateswomen/statesmen, attorneys, the politically minded or those in business. It engenders the allusive persona of confidence and strength without arrogance. Later in the video (2:21 - 2:26), Ambassador Ja'afari, in a poor attempt at the basketball steeple, gives it too much of a vertical component while also moving too fast - and thus loses rapport while demonstrating his adamant emotional mindset.
At the 0:16 - 0:19 mark, Ms. Rice gesticulates with another illustrator - a "Loose Fist Thumbs Up" configuration. It is considerably less provoking than a closed, thumb-pointed-down-fist. This variation sends the emotional message of confidence and determination without the anger of the traditional fist. It is without a doubt an alpha body language signal, and can be overused. Rice, however, uses it like a scalpel - during a brief and very strategic time in her speech - when she is driving home the importance of Syria complying with "...item two..." of Kofi Annan's Six Point Peace Plan for Syria.

The U.S. Ambassador, during the 0:36 - 0:38 segment, uses the "Pseudo-Prayer" nonverbal with the up-and-down chopping motion - from which she should immediately refrain. The pseudo-prayer (particularly with the chop component), in most cluster contexts, sends signals of patronizing and condescending emotions and as it is doing here - and works to destroy rapport.

See also: Secret 1181: Helle Thorning-Schmidt & Her False Praying Gesture

At the 0:46 - 0:48 mark, Ms. Rice adjusted her left cuff and watch with her right hand just as she finishes the statement, "... I can't imagine how the Syrian Ambassador, who wasn't in the room, could accurately characterize what was said ..." This is a common nonverbal signal of "Dialing Up One's Alpha". It is commonly displayed by alpha personalities and is somewhat more commonly seen in males. It's as if the person is calling on their psyche for a bit more assertiveness at certain moments. Prince Charles does this quite a bit.

See also:
Secret # 121:  Mubarak, King Abdullah and Netanyahu
Secret # 1459: Geithner gets his Alpha on

Susan Rice's thumb and forefinger (index finger) are separated by about 2-3 centimeters at the 0:58 mark as she gestures and speaks about a "... brief positive step ...". This nonverbal signal is seen when there is hesitancy, uncertainty or ambivalence - but also for its more obvious meaning of "a little bit".

See also: Secret # 1559: Timothy Geithner on "Face the Nation"

Bashar Ja'afari, uses a vertical hand chop from 0:39 - 0:49 and again at 2:48 - 2:56. This is a confident, alpha illustrator - but Mr. Ja'afar's chop has an exaggerated height and speed component - belying his adamant emotions. Along with his mid-face tension - particularly nasal flaring (throughout the majority of his segment in this video) - are body language tells which signify anger as well as a component of disgust.

At the 2:04 through 2:06 mark, Mr. Ja'afari gives three palm-down gestures in rapid succession. While his fingers are open during these illustrators (thus watering down the full effect), palm-down gestures are ill-advised, since audiences receive them negatively and will alienate even those who have supported one's cause.

See also: Secret # 222: Palms Down vs. Palms Up

When asked, "When are going to comply with this?", Ambassador Ja'afari steps back as he answers, "We have already complied." - a strong tell of defensiveness. Richard Nixon did something very similar during a famous denial.

See also: Secret # 323: I am Not a Crook!

During most of his segment on this video, Bashar Ja'afari speaks out of the side of his mouth. While this could be normal for him, it is somewhat unusual - particularly because his skewed mouth configuration changed sides during this video. Speaking asymmetrically - out of the side of the mouth should raise strong concern for insincerity and/or co-existing contempt.

See  also: Secret 1163: The Importance of "Norming" in the Evaluation of Body Language