Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1212:
Sudden Mouth Covering

When rapid mouth covering occurs, it's a nonverbal signal of an acute realization of an extreme amount of surprise-disbelief. This can be either incredibly good or very bad information (there may be components of both present though) suddenly delivered leading to an emotional overload.  It is a body language sign that the emotional brain is attempting to process an abrupt change of events. Those who rarely exhibit this nonverbal, tend to have low empathy quotients.

Sara Wood's husband, Scott, a marine passed away in November 2011 from injuries suffered in Iraq. This image captures the emotion of the moment - when the Dan Wallrath and Operation Finally Home gave Ms. Wood and her son, Landon a home.

See also: Secret # 221: Hillary's Empathy

See also: Secret # 22: Inspiring Confidence vs. Looking Vulnerable

See also: Secret # 21: Surprise + Fear + Empathy


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1224:
Two Handed Index Finger Point

The Two-Handed Index Finger Point is an excessive, nonverbal signal of grandiosity speakers will use only in front of a crowd they know is already on strongly on their side. With rare exception, in a political context, you will only see it when a candidate is stirring up his/her political base. People use this gesture when they want to foster a self-righteous emotional tone in the audience. If used in front of a neutral or negative audience - such body language would cause people to boo, leave or it may even incite violence.

If the two-handed index finger point (aka double pointing) is used often, particularly in different settings, it can be a signal of narcissistic tendencies (I don't mean to suggest this applies to Mr. Romney, he uses it rather sparingly as politicians go).

Mitt Romney won both the Arizona and Michigan Republican Presidential Primaries tonight. Michigan in particular was considered crucial for the former Massachusetts Governor. He was born in the Great Lake State and his father (George Romney) was a three term Governor there as well as CEO of American Motors.


Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1207:
Never Let Them See You Sweat

Rick Santorum is wiping the sweat from his forehead. That's okay. Everyone Sweats. But didn't Momma tell you never to let 'em see you sweat? It's not necessary to tilt your head down to wipe one's forehead - but Santorum and most everyone does this when anxiety is a contributing factor. Self-touching (although here there is a handkerchief "insulating" - for the most part - against a direct touch) fits into a class of nonverbal behaviors known as Manipulators, Adaptors or Pacifiers (MAPs). There are certainly some exceptions, however the vast majority of MAPs indicate anxiety. Often there is another coexisting negative emotion being expressed as well. Rick has a mild amount of mid-face tightening along with subtle nasal flaring. We cannot see the right side of his face - and thus this could be a subtle display of contempt - if unilaterally expressed. If both sides of the former U.S. Senator's face looks like this - then this body language is a mild display of disgust.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Dating & Romance Body Language Secret # 1019:
Ladies in Red

Yet another study has demonstrated that men find women more attractive when wearing red. The same study found that men in general believe that women are more sexually receptive to their advances when wearing red compared with other colors. Not surprisingly, women who are perceived to be sexually receptive are also judged to be more attractive. The study also suggests that women tend to wear red more often when interested in sexual encounters.

This nonverbal law of attraction was not lost on Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman and Emma Stone who all looked stunning in their red dresses on the red carpet last night at the 2012 Oscars.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1209:
Even Putin has Anxiety -
False Tie Adjust

The "False Tie Adjust" is a very common body language display for men - even those from Mother Russia. It's a reliable indicator of anxiety. Of course, his tie does not really need straightening. There are other nonverbals clustered here too. Usually the Jaw Jut is a nonverbal signal of anger, but not in this context. Similarly to the false-pout displayed here, in this setting they are both indications of Mr. Putin trying to "dial up his alpha". Yes, from time to time - even Vladimir needs more assertiveness.

See also: Secret # 757: Asma's Mild Jaw Jut

See also: Secret # 315: Heightened Potential for Violence

See also: Secret # 345: Dialing Up Her Alpha


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 1167:
Danica's Lips, Danica's Eyes

Danica Patrick is pictured here in a negative emotional state standing next to her boss, Tony Stewart. Although, certainly not dramatic, her eyes are definitely opened wider than normal - indicating elevated adrenaline and increased sympathetic nervous system tone. When you see this "white and wide" eye appearance - think anger, fear or surprise. If we look at Danica's mouth she has a combination of two common nonverbal displays. One is an anxiety signal - an "Inward Lip Roll" (ILR) which indicates an attempt to control the display of negative emotions. However co-existent with the ILR is a second sign, a thinning of the lips - that is, a lateral stretching to the point of almost a disappearance of the lips. When these two body language signals are superimposed - it's sometimes difficult to separate/see both, but in the real-world of course, emotions rarely occur in isolation. The star NASCAR driver is angry and she's trying to control an outward demonstration. How good are you at spotting subtle anger?

After walking away from a crash in NASCAR's Gatorade Duel on Thursday, Danica Patrick will make her first appearance in the Daytona 500 tomorrow.


Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1163:
A Body Language Cheat Sheet
Mobile Phone Tells

President Barack Obama is seen here talking on his mobile phone - somewhat of an unusual photo nowadays. For the vast majority of us, when we talk on the phone, our social filters largely, or at least partially, drop away. Ironically, we express ourselves very openly nonverbally while on the phone, but of course the person we're speaking with cannot see us - of course, those around us can see our behavior. However, if this same person were standing next to us in an identical conversation, our body language would usually be dialed-down. The same nonverbal communication and emotions are still expressed, but they're simply diluted and harder to see. Thus when politicians, business associates, clients, politicians, friends, family members, etc. are talking on their cell, it's a fantastic opportunity to nuance their body language baseline behavior. We also usually have a fair amount of "background information" regarding the subject matter being discussed, and as we correlate their verbal with their nonverbal - which is always a goal of good body language analysis - we will be able to use this to our dramatic advantage when this same person on another occasion is speaking to us - for they have given us glimpse inside their "primer".

Observing another on a phone call is a body language cheat sheet into their psyche. Read well.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication # 1203:
Overcompensating Dominance Display

It is important to always interpret body language in context. This method of "holding one's bat" may be common in professional (or college, high school, etc.) baseball. However, the obvious phallic symbol is blatant, so over-the-top, one cannot simply say the behavior we see exhibited here is limited to just playing baseball. Men will use this and other nonverbal displays to suggest and project dominance - and have done so throughout human history (see below). In modern society - athletes in large measure, play the roles that warriors did in our more ancient cultures. If Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder posed this same way at the grocery store or anywhere else besides this narrow context, they would not be allotted the social latitude they enjoy on the baseball diamond. It is interesting to note that (with rare exception) women softball players don't position their bats in such a fashion.

Ryan Braun had tested extremely high for exogenous sources of testosterone last fall. However due to a chain-of-custody issue, a MLB arbitration panel overturned Braun's 50 day suspension. This is the first time a major league baseball player has successfully challenged a drug-related penalty.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1149:
Who was More Nervous in Last Night's Debate?
Santorum, Romney, Gingrich or Paul?

One measure of anxiety is how often a person blinks. Men tend to blink a bit less often than women. When the heath of the eyes are good and the air is adequately humidified, men on average blink once every 7 - 8 seconds whereas women on average blink every 5 - 6 seconds. There is a fair amount of variability between one person and another though. But if the rate of blinking increases - or if in an absolute sense, the blinking frequency is high, this is a very reliable body language signal of nervousness

In this video segment in the Republican Presidential Debate last night, the four remaining candidates can be seen introducing themselves. Ron Paul first, followed by Rick Santorum, then Mitt Romney and finishing with Newt Gingrich. Paul's and Gingrich's blink rate were not increased over baseline normal. However Santorum's and Romney's blink rate are dramatically increased. All four candidates have considerable debate experience as well as national television exposure .... so why are two of them nervous? Since Romney and Santorum are the front-runners and most pundits feel that one of these two will most likely be the Republican Presidential candidate - one conclusion that we can draw, is that Mitt and Rick have the most to lose by a poor performance. After all, Super Tuesday awaits.

Blink rate can be used to assess nervousness in other contexts. When a person tells a lie, especially if the ramifications of being caught in the lie are more extreme, an increase blink rate is a very reliable indicator of their level of anxiety.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1103:
Jeremy Lin's Body Language -
Basketball's New Sincerity Quotient Standard

Jeremy Lin has got a high sincerity quotient. That is, of course, dramatically different than a person who just says nice things. Obvious? Perhaps to some of us. But so often we confuse nice words with sincere motives. Contrast the two interviewers of the New York Knicks sensation with the man to whom they're speaking. While in considerably different settings, and at different professional levels, news media people have to "act" as if every story emotionally matters to them (industry standards, society standards, etc.), when they have long since grown numb. They are feigning. This is very different than actors, whom we give "permission" to lie to us when we watch their movies (Ekman). When we occasionally see an anchor or a reporter react in an emotional fashion (e.g. like a normal human being), it is such a deviation in behavior (for that profession, in that context/setting, etc.), that it makes the news along with the original story. In a world where people have much less face-to-face interaction, and gain more of their "interpersonal skills" (insert ironic facial expression and tone of voice) from electronic sources, this leads to dramatic ineptitude in both interpreting and projecting body language and paralanguage in context. And it is getting worse.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1143:
Santorum Video Analysis
R2E2 and other Tells

Rick Santorum gave a recent speech in Georgia in which some suggest (and Santorum denied) he was comparing United States President Barack Obama to Hitler. It seems perhaps, that he was comparing the urgency of WWII to that of our current economic recession. In this video above, we cannot see what comes before or after, thus we cannot place it in accurate context so as to make our own judgement. The Body Language Analysis stands on it's own however, and while we cannot always tell why a person has certain emotions at specific times - the presence of these emotions is not in dispute. Nonverbal Communication gives us a real-time view into what a person's emotional brain is feeling-thinking - as it's happening. Rick Santorum was experiencing emotional dissonance during this video. This is probably because he does not fully believe everything he is saying - which has to be true for virtually all politicians a good share of the time.

Nonverbal analysis of above (truncated) video:

0:02 - 0:03, A display of contempt - right side of mouth

0:05 - 0:07, R2E2 display - right side of face. R2E2 is short for the "Rationalization-Rapport-Empathy-Expression" (See also: Secret 795: R2E2, Pseudo-Smiles and Bonding Beguiles). It usually lasts 1 -2 seconds although it can be manifested as a much shorter microexpression. It's the users attempt at trying to convince a listener of their point of view. When you see this expression, the person may not be trying to win you over in a premeditated fashion, but their view-point is being clearly expressed. It is context-related and can thus look very similar to contempt. The nose and paranasal region wrinkles, there is often a head tilt and a squinting (partial closure) of the eyelids. Often there co-exists a contempt like expression of the mouth as well. Rick Santorum displays all of these in this two second display. Obviously, the former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania is trying to become the Republican candidate for President - so we know he has a clear agenda when he gets up to make a speech. But when you see this in other settings, you can be 100% sure the person is trying to convince you of their opinion and the R2E2 is an extremely reliable signal of such intent.

When a person makes the R2E2 expression, it's also a signal she/he is usually talking to an audience (even an audience of one) who he perceives to be relatively friendly (or at least relatively neutral)- that is, mostly (but not necessarily entirely) of a similar mindset - so winning their support is realistic. His psyche feels it's in the red zone and he's trying to get a (sneaky) touchdown in a rapport-building, friendly manner before you fully recognize what's happening.

The R2E2 can also be a signal that, at least in part, the speaker is trying to convince themselves of a decision, thought process or course of action - thus rationalization is taking place and they are looking to you for agreement. The vast majority of R2E2 displays are made unconsciously. The subconscious is a sneaky companion.

Whether it's self-directed or directed towards others, the R2E2 is a sign that rationalization is occurring, that full confidence is lacking and/or a component of manipulation is present. Salespeople use this body language expression very often.

0:45, Contempt display. Contempt is a very specific emotion wherein we are placing another person or group of people below us based on their flaws.

0:49, another R2E2

0:53, Right hand finally removed from front, hip pocket - signals a relative increase in confidence, however the other hand remains hidden, so this is a less than full up-shift in comfort-confidence. See below.

1:25, Right sided, partial, Inward Lip Roll (ILR). The inward lip roll, while only partially displayed here, is a signal of our subconsciousness/edge-of-consciousness trying to refrain from expressing a negative emotion. It's our psyche's attempt at dialing-down a negative emotional experience.

See also: Secret # 322: Megan Fox's Lips

1:32, Contempt display

1:31 - 1:33, Thumb gripped inside of right, closed fist. This is an extreme anxiety signal. Sometimes there may an anger component as well.

Santorum's left hand was in his pocket the entire length of video, while his right hand taken out at 0:53 mark. Hands in the pockets are signals of lower confidence, lower comfort and a desire not to fully engage. There is emotional dissonance present - he knows he has to be there - but he's not fully committed to the moment - probably because he feels conflicted about what he's saying. Under no circumstances should any image coach or debate coach be recommending that he put his hands in his pockets. While in general, I would strongly recommend a speaker to use a hands-free, wireless microphone - for those who have a tendency to put their hands in their pockets - they would be well-advised to use a hand held mic, for it gives them someplace to put their hands.

See also: Secret # 913: Hands in Pockets - Low Confidence, Low Trust and Demure)


Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1933:
Iran's Aggression and their Military's Salute -
A Visual Metaphor of WWII & Nazi Fear

Iran's Military salute is very similar to the Nazi salute initiated in pre-WWII Germany. I thought of including a historical image for comparison - but that is not necessary. Immediately when we look at this recent picture, those of the 1930's and early 40's evoke other dark images, empathy (for their victims) and pain. The act of not including such a photo illustrates just how strongly the Nazi World-view is cemented fearfully in our mind and minds-eye, even though most alive now were not alive then. The vast majority of people experience these painful emotions in historical context, or perhaps by stories told or read, etc.

From a pure body language point of view, the Iranian salute is even more caustic than the Nazi's. The closed-fisted message is more dominant and violence provoking than Hitler's open, palm-down configuration. Of course, neither is welcomed.

Iran again announced today that it would attack preemptively any country which it perceives as a threat to it's national interests. Israel and Iran have traded threats for some time. This comes as tension in the Mideast grows and the IAEA, the United Nations' nuclear monitoring body, begins another set of talks with the Iranian Government in an attempt to ascertain the full scope of Iran's nuclear intentions.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1921:
No Fear on Friendship 7

In this 1962 news reel of Friendship 7's flight, John Glenn, although shown briefly - his body language demonstrates no signals of fear what so ever. Fifty years ago today, the World War II and Korean War veteran became the second human and the first American to orbit the Earth (Yuri Gagarin, the Soviet Cosmonaut was both the first human in space and the first to orbit Earth on 12 April 1961 on the Vostok 1 spacecraft). Glenn later served four terms as U.S. Senator from Ohio and in 1995 became the oldest astronaut (to date) when he flew aboard the Discovery on STS-95


Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1163:
The Importance of "Norming" in the
Evaluation of Body Language

Ma Ying-jeou, the President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) examples for us a basic and important premise in the science and art of Body Language - that of "Norming" - or in other words, establishing a baseline behavior. One reliable signal of insincerity is speaking out of the side of the mouth, however when people do it continuously (which is relatively unusual or even rare) - it is part of their normal, everyday behavior - part of their baseline personality. It also has similarity to an expression of contempt and may also be a metric of anxiety - depending on the other nonverbals with which it is clustered. Thus, it would be inaccurate to use this particular tell as an "insincerity, lie or contempt detector". Of course, such an individual may still be insincere, lying or contemptuous, but we just cannot use this signal to detect these acts in these people.

Ma Ying-jeou speaks out of the right side of his mouth so often, this is undoubtedly part of his normal baseline behavior.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1197:
Fingers Held Close Together

This is Rick Santorum at the recent CPAC Conference in Washington D.C. When the index finger and the thumb are held a short distance apart, this may indicate the obvious - "a little bit" or "a small amount", etc. - but this body language can also denote reluctance or skepticism.


Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1181:
Helle Thorning-Schmidt & her
False Praying Gesture

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Danish Prime Minister, exemplifies here a pseudo-praying gesture. Like all body language, the pseudo-prayer must be interpreted in the context of the other nonverbals with which it is clustered. With this particular facial expression - especially her eyes, eyelids, brows and forehead - whatever verbal message she's trying to convey, the nonverbal message she's transmitting is extremely patronizing. Unless you teach preschool, if you don't want to alienate your audience - DO NOT emulate Thorning-Schmidt.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1177:
The Bitter Smile

Mitt Romney thinks he's smiling. Believe it or not, when the vast majority of people make this expression, they believe they are making a slight smile. Paul Ekman terms this a "Bitter Smile". This particular concave-downward appearance of Mr. Romney's mouth is a fantastic demonstration of how, when we are experiencing strong emotions - particularly negative ones - we are do not have accurate "Emotional Proprioception". 

The former Massachusetts Governor's lips are turned inward as well (an "Inward Lip Roll", aka ILR), indicating he's trying to control a negative emotional display. It more than leaks out though, and for virtually all observers - while they cannot label and give a dissertation on an ILR, the combination of these two body language signals/cluster leaves them with an intuitively negative feeling.

How aware are you of your own bitter smile?


Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1153:
President Obama's Tongue in Cheek

United States President Barack Obama displays a fantastic example of the "Tongue-in-Cheek" nonverbal in this image. Like all body language, this signal has different meanings depending on what other signs with which it is clustered. In this specific body language context - particularly the concomitant configurations of his mouth, eyes and forehead - it has the meaning of "I gotcha" or a self-righteous, "I know I'm correct and I've just won 'The Game'. " It is not uncommon to see someone make this expression, betraying their true emotions & thoughts - and yet their words would lead you down another path. When the verbal and nonverbal are in disparity - always believe the nonverbal.

President Obama made this facial expression as he joked about his birth certificate. Even though this expression is made in a context of a joke, the President feels that he has "one-upped" the Birthers.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Dating & Romance Body Language Secret # 1139:
Is Their Hug Sincere?
Karen & Rick Santorum

If someone says they love you, how do you know it's truthful? Well, one way to tell is the quality of their hug. What are the characteristics of a sincere hug? In this photo of Rick and Karen Santorum, they are locked in an embrace during a recent Primary victory celebration. When the palms are flat, this is a signal of true affection. We cannot see Rick's hands, however Karen's are certainly flat against her husband's back. If someone hugs with just a finger-contact, at the very best, they are not fully present in the moment. Hugs are rare enough - only seconds in our lives - and important enough - that they should always command 100% attention. More typically though, with a finger-tip hug, affection is simply minimal or absent. 

Although, we cannot see it here (because the image is cropped), another characteristic of a truly affectionate hug, is contact between the waists and lower bodies. This is certainly true with a spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, etc. - but also with child-parent, or sibling-sibling relationships - but only in the presence of true affection.

Karen Santorum also exhibits another affection-absolute of a sincere hug - that of eyelid closing. Forty percent of the mass of the brain - and thus a corresponding amount of the blood supply and oxygen goes to our visual brain components. Moreover, we get a full ninety percent of our sensory input through our vision. When we close our eyes, a bit of this massive blood supply gets shunted to the other parts of our brains - e.g. the other four senses, our cognitive centers and our emotional brain. Thus in the act of closing the eyelids, we are trying to "drink in" the full emotion of the moment. We are trying to maximize our hug-experience. If a person does not close their eyes during a hug, they are not emotionally engaged - the only question is why? Is it because they are distracted .... or apathetic?

Karen Santorum's hug is very sincere. She is experiencing the full emotion of the moment. Few feelings compare with the giving and receiving of true affection. Seek it. Give it. Covet it .... and don't take it for granted.


Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1191:
Aung San Suu Kyi's
Sincere but Suppressed Smile

There are many insincere smiles which look, to some or most, sincere. In this image however, we see an example of something of the opposite - a sincere smile, that is partially suppressed and thus to some looks like it is less than sincere. The key is in the eyes and eyelids. 

In order for a smile to be rooted in true joy-happiness, the eyelids must be partially closed - AND IN A VERY PARTICULAR WAY. Mild to moderate anger has partial eyelid closure as well, but the eyelids are closed in a different way. Here, Aung San Suu Kyi demonstrates the highly characteristic, concave-up furrows which MUST BE PRESENT in order for the smile to be sincere. Moreover, these furrows will dynamically deepen as the eyelids partially close as the smile increases ("Crows Feet" will also grow more accentuated with smiling - but most people over 35 have some/a lot of crows feet in the non-smiling, resting state - thus any changes are much more difficult to qualify and quantify. Observing for any eyelid partial closure is much more reliable).

One other change that occurs with a true, felt smile (Ekman) is the skin beneath the eyebrow contracts - pulling the eyebrows slightly downwards during a sincere smile of joy-happiness. This is very difficult to see however, especially since in absolute terms, the amount of movement of this tissue is relatively small. It's more reliable to look for the growth of the lower lid, concave-up crease - deepening simultaneous with the partial lid closure (see above).

See also: Secret # 353: Brad Pitt's Eyes - Sincere and Insincere Smiles

Typically with a truly sincere smile, the mouth is open with the upper teeth are exposed (and very little if any of the lower teeth) and the cheeks are bunched upward. Although Ms. Suu Kyi's cheeks are certainly quite characteristic of a Duchenne (sincere) smile, her mouth closure is being suppressed at the moment of this image. Taken in total, this is a very sincere smile of joy-happiness.

Aung San Suu Kyi has got a lot to smile about. As a Burmese Opposition politician and General Secretary for the National League for Democracy, she is running for a lower house (Pyithu Hluttaw) seat in Kawhmu Township, Myanmar. Before her release in November 2010, Ms. Suu Kyi was under house arrest for 15 of the previous 21 years. In 1991, Aung San was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. She is one of only five people ever having received honorary citizenship from Canada and has been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by the United States. Aung San has also received the Rafto Prize, the Jawalharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, as well as the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought

Good luck Ms. Suu Kyi. Myanmar and the World needs more like you.

See also:  Secret # 391: Hillary Clinton and Aung San Suu Kyi


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1139:
How Not to Build Rapport

Rick Santorum is incredulous. Anytime you see a unilateral smile - it's always suspect. An insincere "smile" is asymmetrical. Contempt also has this characteristic. Most otherwise socially adept, educated and experienced people mistake contempt for a coy smile. Not so. Moreover he's not looking at the person who's speaking. We don't look directly at those we don't trust/believe, don't respect or don't like. 

What would think if your spouse, business partner, client or child was wearing such a face? I highly doubt Mr. Santorum is making this expression in a premeditated-deliberate fashion. If he were an accomplished actor, I'd still doubt it. Like most of us, he's much less self-aware than he believes. On the very small chance this Body Language is rehearsed and/or deliberate and on cue, I'd advise him to stop immediately.

If you're trying to garner votes, one must look engaged - even if you disagree with what is being said. If you want to take the Michigan Primary (and the Republican Nomination) from Mitt Romney, dial-up your "warm and fuzzy" a bit Rick. The former U.S. Senator of Pennsylvania should be leaning forward in his chair - not backwards - certainly not with his arms crossed. This body language cluster transmits feelings of disengagement, defensiveness, closed mindedness, incredulity and contempt. Rapport will not be developed or fostered this way, yet politicians continue to ask for your votes displaying such nonverbals and salespeople continuously try and close the deal when prospective clients are configured this way - at all the wrong times.


Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1141:
Elbows in Syria

Bashar al-Assad is pictured here with his country's flag in the background. The Syrian "Leader" is displaying an highly unusual body language for a head-of-state.  Notice his arm configuration. When elbows are held in so closely to the sides of the chest - it's very characteristic of a low-confidence emotional tone. Alpha's don't hold their arms this way. Those who used to be Alpha's, and those with Beta personalities -  well that's a different story. The Syrian President's confidence is crumbling.

And the walls came tumbling down....


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1162:
Ahmadinejad, Napoleon, al-Assad and Dominance

In this photo, Bashar al-Assad has just received an award from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Usually when this Body Language emblem is performed, the person being honored is held by the wrist or lower hand - so that they are positioned slightly higher - thus displaying a nonverbal "Visual Metaphor" to demonstrate triumph and accomplishment (Think of the Statue of Liberty). Yet here, despite being over a foot shorter than al-Assad, Ahmadinejad keeps the upper hand in a clear dominance display. The Syrian leader, is in need of the Iran's good graces - though al-Assad looks less a bit less than enthusiastic. It is extremely intriguing to compare Syria's political dependency on Iran - to Iran's desire for Pakistan's favor, clout and (nuclear) technology (see Secret # 112: Pakistan Trumps Iran).

See also: Secret # 882: Bashar al-Assad's Chronic Insincerity

See also: Secret # 1041: Russia's Dominance Over Syria


Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1151:
Xi Jinping's Subtle Pursed Lips

This is Xi Jinping, the Vice President of the People's Republic of China. In addition, he's the Secretariat of the Communist Party of China and the heir apparent to this Eastern Super Power's Presidency (currently occupied by Hu Jintao). He's also happening to currently be visiting the United States.

These three images were all taken on 14 February 2012, and are excellent examples of subtle Lip Pursing. Lip pursing is a strong signal that a person disagrees with what he/she is hearing or seeing. It also is a sign they have an alternative idea/plan that is superior to yours - or at least they think so. It's nearly always an expression made by a person who is in a position of relative power (or at least believes so) - i.e. there are subordinates (or perceived subordinates) present and he's passing judgement on what he is witnessing. Interestingly, the vast majority of the time, the person displaying this very reliable body language tell, will NOT verbally express any disagreement. Indeed, very typically he/she will be polite and affirming what is being said/proposed.

In summary, pursed lips are a signal of clandestine disagreement made by a person who is or perceives himself to be in a (relative) power position and who also believes their idea is superior - and they plan to implement it. They'll usually have the resources and experience pull it off.

This is a nonverbal sign which is displayed by an alpha personality on perceived "weaker-alpha's" or beta personalities. It is highly reliable. DO NOT IGNORE IT. 

President Obama, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Congress, et. al. - take heed. Xi Jinping is going to be the next President of China .... and he's got some plans.



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1131:
Romney's Handshake, Santorums Bicep's, and Dominance

Mitt Romney is show here at one of the many recent Republican Presidential Debates in a dominance-display handshake-maneuver that politicians use to their DISADVANTAGE continuously on the voting public. The body language of grabbing the forearm, elbow, or here the bicep of the other person with your LEFT hand, while shaking their Right - is always negatively received by that individual (Pease). So if you want their vote, their allegiance, or for you non-political leaders - their blood, sweat and tears - DON'T SHAKE HANDS THIS WAY! 

Romney - like all the other republicans (and democrats, independents, etc.) make this mistake all the time. In the above example however, Mitt is playing this to his advantage, because he's trying to look dominant over Rick Santorum - not trying to get his vote. Thus this is one of the few exceptions to the handshake nonverbal rule, of not touching the other person with your left hand. Romney's trying to appear dominant and here he's succeeding.


Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1138:
Jennifer Hudson's Whitney Houston Tribute

Jennifer Hudson's tribute to Whitney Houston at the 2012 Grammy's Sunday night was very moving. Ms. Hudson's performance was incredible - not only because of her beautiful voice and the personalized lyrical additions towards the end of "I Will Always Love You", but also because of her very human-emotional displays which of course, provoked strong feelings of grief-sadness-empathy in all who witnessed and heard her performance.

In the image above, Ms. Hudson shows us an "Inward Lip Roll" (aka ILR) which is a common nonverbal seen when there is an effort to "hold in" strong (usually negative) emotions. She knew Whitney personally, so her sadness-grief was certainly more strongly felt than most other performers would be in her shoes. Her eyelid closure at this same moment shows even more of an attempt on the unconsciousness's part to sequester sadness.

In the next image (below), Jennifer adopts a prayer/pseudo-prayer emblem with her hands. Although Ms. Hudson's faith is unknown to me/most of us, depending on the other Body Language it's clustered with, it can indicate several different emotional states. When we look at her facial characteristics - e.g., her slightly upturned inner (medial) eyebrows, chin wrinkling, lateral-mouth tension with a slight down-turning of the mouth's corners - all project solid emotional characteristics of sadness. 

In addition, in this context, her elbows-in configuration (held close to her sides) gives us an additional signal of low-comfort/sadness.

Often when a person is attempting to hold back tears and reign in a sadness, their mid-face will display a vertical and horizontal stretching-tension. This is extremely common. It's easy to spot if you know what to look for - the nasal flaring (dilation) and tightening of the "mustache area" is a neon light for her effort to hold back tears.

In this final image (below), Ms. Hudson transitions further to a mouth covering just after the pray/pseudo-prayer emblem noted above. This particular gesture has a very high sincerity quotient. When you see it displayed, especially when clustered with other body language as we see here, there is an extreme amount of empathy being experienced. If it is preceded by, or coexists with surprise and/or fear, it can indicate shock-disbelief.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1122:
Tiger, Pebble Beach and the Puffer Fish

Yesterday at Pebble Beach, Tiger Woods went into the final round with a chance of victory - but his short game failed him. This is his face just after missing a putt on the 13th hole. Here he's showing us a specific body language tell termed the "Puffer Fish". Aptly named. It's a signal of anxiety displayed just before (when the outcome and expectation is generally known) or more commonly just after a relatively large psychological stressor. Surgeons subconsciously perform this nonverbal after difficult cases, attorneys before big trials and college students after exams. In a unconscious effort to reduce stress and calm the psyche - the puffer fish will even temporarily lower blood pressure and pulse (In contrast to Tight Lipped Breathing). It occurs during the exhalation phase of respiration and of course it may happen over several consecutive cycles. 

Phil Mickelson came from behind with an amazing final round of 64 to win by two stokes over Charlie Wi. The two were paired together yesterday as Tiger could only manage a 75.


Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1171:
Not So Fast Swift ....
Taylor's False Surprise

Pictured here with Neil Patrick Harris, the beautiful and talented Taylor Swift examples an outstanding Body Language moment at last night's Grammy Awards. This image demonstrates perfectly a commonly falsified emotion - that of surprise. Surprise is the most evanescent of all emotions - thus one clue to feigned surprise is how long it appears to last. If it's longer than a second or two, there is at least a portion of it that is being forced. But we can't tell that with this example, since this is not a video. Another intriguing characteristic of surprise, is that it almost always transitions rapidly to another emotion - e.g. anger, laughter/joy-happiness, fear, embarrassment, etc. Again we are out of luck here because this is only a photo.... however....

Notice that Ms. Swift's eyelids are NOT opened wider than normal. In order for surprise to be authentic, the upper eyelids elevate and the lower eyelids retract - exposing more "whites of the eye" (increased scleral show). This is physiologic and if the surprise is real, this "white and wide" appearance cannot be suppressed. Although Taylor's eyebrows are made up in a typical elevated fashion, they are not actively being elevated with any muscles. We know this because her forehead is not contracted - at all, it is completely relaxed. All of these nonverbal actions are required if the surprise is sincere.

Now let's say Taylor was 52 rather than 22. One may say, "Well .... she may have recently had Botox treatments to her forehead (Hmmmmmm?). often in such cases, if her surprise were sincere - you would still see eyelid elevation and therefore more whites of the eyes exposed.

I wish to emphasize that we all occasionally force emotions or act in various social situations when we feel it is required or in doing so we will avoid a problem, spare a person's feelings, etc. Thus in any given situation, when a person is expressing an emotion insincerely, it does not mean that they are as a whole an insincere person. But in that moment - the emotion is being feigned.

Congratulations to Ms. Swift for her two 2012 Grammys. Her song, "Mean" won both for Best Country Song as well as Best Country Solo Performance.


Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1117:
Adele's Six Grammys

This is Adele (Adkins) at yesterday's Grammy Awards. Last night she received six of them, including Best Pop Solo Performance for "Someone Like You" and Song of the Year for "Rolling in the Deep". Of course she already had two from 2009. Wow! In this image, Adele has her hand over her sternum and her left upper chest. This of course overlies the heart. Notice that her entire hand, palm included, is touching. This "palmar touch" is consistent with a high "Sincerity Quotient". Often people display this when the hear stories or witness events which provoke strong empathy. If you see someone touching with just their fingers, be careful, for they are likely feigning empathy (see: Secret # 665: A Strong Sign of Insincerity). Red flag time.