Monday, August 6, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2777:
Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, John McCain and John Boehner

Hillary Clinton is not often on the same side of an issue as John McCain and John Boehner - however they are when it comes to Huma Abedin, Clinton's long-time aide and deputy chief-of-staff. After five house republicans called into question whether Ms. Abedin has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood because a possible association her long-deceased father may have had - all three came to her defense. 

During the 0:17 - 0:27 segment of this video, Secretary Clinton is praising McCain and Boehner while denouncing the McCarthyesque actions of those questioning Ms. Abedin's loyalty. Ms. Clinton uses the "Political Point" with her right hand along with an up-and-down chopping motion of her right arm. The political point is used in lieu of a traditional finger point (index finger/forefinger) or other similar nonverbals (the two finger point, pointing with a pen or pencil). As its moniker alludes to, this form of pointing is seen most often in the political arena and is a "softer" and friendlier way to point. 

The "index finger point" is a body language that is cross-culturally offensive and with rare exception should never be used. Often the thumb and forefinger are in a loose and nearly circular configuration - which is seen when the face, particularly the mid-face and mouth are more relaxed and void of anger and other negative emotional body language signals. Note however, that Ms. Clinton's digits are pinched together to form a tear-drop shape. When this variation of the political-point is seen, there is a more negative emotional tone present - which is often seen with corresponding facial tension. Ms. Clinton displays a subtle body language expression of contempt during this same ten second segment - which is directed at Huma Abedin's accusers - Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Louie Gohmert (R-Tx), Thomas Rooney (R-FL) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA).

Thus the pinched-political point (tear-drop shaped) is a more assertive and aggressive variation compared to the circular, relaxed and relative-beta variety. Ms. Clinton's chopping motion of her arm further adds to these more alpha emotions. While to some these may seem nearly identical gestures, nuancing this difference will allow you a clearer view into others' psyches. If negative emotions are present - endeavor to see through the camouflage ... or you will be ambushed.