Friday, June 15, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1880:
Obama admits "The Private Sector is Doing Fine" Gaffe

In this video, President Obama pokes fun at himself concerning his recent gaffe of, "...The private sector is doing fine..." There are three body language signals that are of particular interest here.

At the very beginning the President commits, what for him, is a very rare nonverbal faux pas - the "ear screw". It's nearly always the index finger (aka fore finger), but occasionally another digit, that makes a screwing motion in the ear canal (external auditory meatus). This is a specific nonverbal where the person committing it is in disbelief about what they are hearing - whether uttered by oneself or another. Therefor it is a very common body language signal of deception. Here however, while Barack Obama, is in disbelief for what he is about to say - it's not a signal of lying - he's embarrassed, regretful and is having a bit of trouble - and thus he's emotionally processing the fact that he's about to admit to the World he put his foot in his mouth big time. He knows that with respect to crisis management and common sense, it's a wise thing to do (and should have done it much earlier) - but he's still in some disbelief for what he's about to do.

It is disbelief - but here it's not deception.

In addition, at the 0:33 second mark just after he says, "...You may have heard I just made my own unique contribution to that process...", Barack Obama bites his bottom lip with his upper teeth. In this context it is a signal of embarrassment and the President and the rest of us display this nonverbal often in the presence of self-deprecating humor.  Just after that at the 0:36-0:37 mark, the President's displays an Inward Lip Roll (ILR) which is a signal of anxiety and more specifically it means the subconscious is trying to hold in negative emotions (usually anger).