Friday, July 13, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2041:
Michelle and Barack Obama
Open Consideration, Tolerance "Smile" and Contempt

In the first few seconds of this interview of President Barack Obama and the First Lady, there are several great body language tells.

When Charlie Rose asks, "...What do you think the lessons have been that might guarantee success in the second term if that happens?" Michelle Obama shifts her upper and lower lips directly to one side (her left). This can be clearly seen if you freeze frame at the 0:02 mark. It's a clear signal of honest and open consideration. She is taking what Rose asks at face value and (briefly) contemplating the answer. This nonverbal doesn't last long though. At the 0:04 mark, the first lady displays mild tension in her mid-face and her lips tighten - particularly her upper lip - as she tries, and fails to display a "Social Smile". Rather this particular mouth configuration demonstrates an emotional tone of anxiety-anger & "I'm-trying-to-tolerate-you".

At this same time segment (0:04), the President has a very particular facial expression of prolong blinking, along with central forehead contraction and a modest - but false - "smile". Anytime there is contraction of the forehead muscles, particularly the central forehead as Barack examples here, the "smile" is always insincere. This nonverbal cluster is highly consistent of contempt. The President doesn't like the question and/or Charlie Rose. 

In conclusion, in the first four seconds of this video, we see two very common examples of false and insincere 'social smiles" that we all display several to many times a day. The President and first lady are very experienced at putting their best face forward - but they are only human. True emotions-thoughts always leak out. You can spot them if you know what to look for. How sincere is your smile?

See also:

Analysis # 1890: Eric Holder has (Emotional) Contempt toward Darrell Issa - While Rep. Issa is Very Excited to be Seeking "Contempt of Congress" against Holder

Analysis # 1816: Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Contempt & Mary Richardson Kennedy's Social Smile

Analysis # 1696: George Zimmerman's Testimony - Fear, Incredulity, Regret & Contempt

Analysis # 1881: Interrupting the President & Contempt Display - Neil Munro shows us his Body Language and His (Lack of) Etiquette

Analysis # 1889: Vladimir Putin & Barack Obama at the G-20

Analysis # 1871: Barack Obama Explains His "Private Sector is Doing Fine" Comment - The "Dominant Spider" vs. The "Split-Finger Fastball"

Analysis # 1491: Barack Obama on Trayvon Martin - "If I hand a Son, He'd Look Like Trayvon"