Friday, October 5, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2137:
Mitt Romney vs. Barack Obama - First Presidential Debate -
Barack's Bad Body Language

A couple of interesting Body Language Faux Pas are seen in this image of the first Presidential Debate in Denver. 

Note the position of President Obama's feet. The vast majority of his weight is on his left foot, while only the toes of his right foot are touching. Moreover, his right foot is crossed-over in back - past the vertical axis of his left leg. Although to the casual observer this may appear relaxed - it's far from it ... While Mitt Romney has got both feet planted flat on the floor, they should be a bit further apart - about shoulder width. Such a foot configuration would be more alpha, assertive and engenders more confidence. It will even lead to more fluid thought, better word choice and improved speech flow.  While neither man's legs & feet are perfect, Mr. Obama's are horrible for any type of leadership appearance - particularly for a speech or debate. In this context, his lower limb nonverbals indicate non-assertive, demure and beta emotional tone. 

A similar emotional message is being signaled by Obama's hand position. His hands are hidden. The less we see of a person, the more difficult it is to establish and build rapport - AND the less we trust them. This is particularly true when it comes to the hands. Hidden hands also indicate a less than confident emotional mindset. A much better place for his hands would be resting on the sides of the lectern - popularized by John Kennedy and also used very effectively by Bill Clinton and recently by Ann Romney.

The combination of the President's hand and foot positions seen here are NOT those of a confident, energetic, alpha emotional mindset. They are consistent with low confidence, tired and beta behavior. 

See also: