Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2121:
Mitt Romney's 47 Percent - The Hidden Video

By now most all of you have seen several clips of the hidden video of Mitt Romney speaking at a fundraiser this past spring (displayed here in two segments from their source at Mother Jones via YouTube). What can be learned from the limited amount of body language that is visible to us?

With respect to nonverbals, only Mitt's hand movements can be seen with any clarity. Hand/arm gestures (not including self-touching configurations) are termed "Illustrators" (although there are  additional types of illustrators which don't involve the hands or arms). These nonverbals are used to emphasize and highlight the accompanying verbal messages. Mr. Romney has a strong tendency NOT to use illustrators very much. During his speech responding to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision regarding the "Affordable Care Act" (aka Obamacare), Mitt Romney never used his hands - even once. However during an interview explaining when exactly his CEO status at Bain Capital changed - he displayed illustrators in great abundance (for Mitt this was an exception). During his RNC acceptance speech his illustrator use was somewhat intermediate (3 or 4 out of 10).

When a speaker uses nonverbal illustrators in a congruent manner with his verbal messages, they are in general, being more honest, more assertive, more impassioned and they build more rapport (the topic of illustrators can be extensively nuanced). Their audience will also have greater recall. If a person suddenly diminishes their illustrator use - or uses them very minimally, they tend not to be trusted and will have more difficulty building rapport.

During much of this candid video of Mr. Romney's fundraising speech, Mitt used illustrators throughout as he speaks - indicating a high level of sincerity and passion. Mr. Romney very much  meant what he said.

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