Saturday, May 19, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1818:
Political Correctness, a Partial Emblematic Slip
at a Falcon, Colorado Elementary School

A second grader from Falcon, Colorado as part of a class project, was assigned to portray the figure of Martin Luther King Jr. When Sean King showed up at school with his face painted black, trouble ensued. He was asked to wash the paint off, but he and his parents refused. This nonverbal analysis concentrates on in that of Stephanie Meredith, a school district Spokeswoman (see during 0:47 to 0:54).

Ms. Meredith said, "When other students are offended by something, it's really the Principal's role to make sure that the educational environment is safe for all the students." She may believe this statement to be valid - in general - but in this specific case she does not agree with the action of the school principal. She is playing the good soldier. 

Note that at several times Ms. Meredith shrugged with her right shoulder (vertical moving up and down) several times in this short clip (her left shoulder is moving - but it's moving laterally as her head and upper body moves back and forth). This is a beautiful body language example of a "Partial Emblematic Slip" wherein this partial (unilateral) shrug indicates doubt of the spokeswoman's own words. When there is a disparity between the spoken word and the nonverbal signals - the body language is always correctly - reflecting the true emotions-thoughts.

Thought experiment: Change the setting here a bit and suppose for a minute that you were the chief negotiator representing company A, and Ms. Meredith was the head negotiator for corporation B. If she exhibited similar body language as the nonverbals she displayed in this video - you would be sure she was bluffing.