Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2128:
Mitt Romney's & Bill Clinton's Body Language
during Mitt's Joke at 2012 Clinton Global Initiative

There are some great body language displays in this short video clip. In it Bill Clinton introduces Mitt Romney at the Clinton Global Initiative 2012.

Freeze frame during the 0:05 mark.

Note the configuration of Bill Clinton's mouth/lips. His protruding Jaw (aka "Jaw Jut") and is strongly indicative of anger. His masseter muscles (which close the jaw) can be seen prominently bulging (tightly contracted). Another signal of anger is Mr. Clinton's thinned lips - which here is coexistent with a partial internal lip roll (ILR). The ILR is a strong nonverbal indicator of an attempt to control negative emotions (here anger, but it can be associated with others such as sadness). It's a signal that the temper is wearing thin.

Mitt Romney, by chance or design approached the lectern from the left side of the stage. This is the desirable tactic because it places Mitt's hand closer to the audience and more visible to cameras or eyeballs. His hand is slightly rotated clock-wise placing him slightly "on top" - a signal of alpha behavior. Mitt goes one notch further by using his left hand to embrace Bill's right elbow. This "false intimacy/false friendship" nonverbal - although more widely used in the context of politics - is universally negatively received - encroaching into personal space. Romney uses the elbow embrace here as an additional display of dominance.

During the "joke", where Mitt Romney gives Bill Clinton a complement and eludes to "a bump in the polls", the republican candidate displays contempt twice in the form of a unilateral sniff (once during 0:24 - 0:25 and more subtly at 0:41 - 0:42 - both via his left nostril). This rapid nasal inhalation of air is variation of the nasal flare and is often seen with a lip curl, a tightening of the mustache area, an increase in "crow's feet" and a partial closure of the eyelids. It's a commonly overlooked nonverbal and here it betrays Governor Romney's true feelings for President Clinton - contempt.

See also:  

Analysis # 2127: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Body Language during Piers Morgan Interview

Analysis # 1499: Bill Clinton's Empathy for Eric Fehrnstrom and Mitt Romney ... What's YOUR Sincerity Quotient?

Analysis # 2125: Presidential Debate Body Language - George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot 1992

Analysis # 441: Bill Clinton's Rapport and His Temporary Universe

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

Analysis # 55: What is Bill Clinton Saying?

Analysis # 731: Beautiful Prime Minister - Bad Handshake

Analysis # 703: Bad Handshake? - Let me Count the Ways!

Analysis # 1041: Russia's Dominance Over Syria

Analysis # 1510: Handshakes, Statesmanship and Dominance - Manmohan Singh & Asif Ali Zardari

Analysis # 379: Dominant Handshake Tendencies

Analysis # 1131: Romney's Handshake, Santorum's Bicep and Dominance 

Analysis # 1032: Romney, Rapport and Handshakes