Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2340:
Mayor "Sly" James' Microphone Hijacked
During his Kansas City, Missouri's - State of City Address
Body Language Tells - Not what you'd expect

Kansas City, Missouri's Mayor "Sly" James was interrupted this morning during the State of the City address. The as yet unidentified man was then wrestled to the ground and arrested for assaulting a police officer - with probable other charges to follow. No doubt the microphone hijacker's behavior was illegal, unacceptable and not part of what most people consider acceptable civil discourse in a reasonable society. 

From a body language perspective the mayor's reaction is intriguing. Many assassinations occur during speeches. Mayor James' lack of moving away from the intruder goes against natural instinct of the vast majority of people. Doing so would not have colored him in any negative light. On the contrary, protection of oneself is very human. The Mayor's personal space (and even his intimate space) was invaded - abruptly, in a potentially violently fashion and by a stranger - all in a particularly unusual setting. It is interesting to speculate if, had a similar event happened to him in another place where the Mayor was not acting as a leader or the alpha male, whether he would have retracted away from a potential assailant. The vast majority of people are "hardwired" to pull away - as part of our human self-preservation reflex. Thinking is not part of this. It's a reflex - even if he were a 10th degree black belt. To back rapid away when your personal/intimate space is compromised in such a rapid fashion is not cowardice, it is fully human.

Early on, the Mayor shows no signs of anger. In the first image below, his lips are pursed - which is a strong nonverbal indicator of a clandestine disagreement from a relative alpha who has the power and resources to pull of his plan. Of course seconds later, the mayor sees "his plan" fully exercised by his body guards.

Very often these same pursed lips expression are displayed in the calm of a business meeting. And in such settings the words being said are often relatively or even very friendly. Watch their body language instead though - for while those who give this facial signal are voicing little or no disagreement - while their thoughts and emotions are expressing huge disparity. Prepare for an "end run".

In this second image (below), Mayor James' is displaying nonverbal signals of anger.  The thinning of and tension in his upper lip and "mustache area" is particularly telling here. There is also significant nostril dilation. Note this occurs once the police officer grabs the interrupter - thus the Mayor feels less threatened.

Note it is also still pursed - so their are at least two emotions present.

The microphone hijacker however, has a distinct signal of emotional and/or physical pain on his face - most notably shown by the contraction of his central forehead muscles.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2274: The Eyes & Mouth of Fear -  Body Language of Ahmed Dogan during  Attempted Assassination

Invading Personal Space

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1212:  Invading Barack Obama's Personal Space

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 915:  Interpersonal Space of Candidates

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2330:  Body Language of Foot Placement on another Person's Chair

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1896:  IMF Managing Director - Christine Lagarde Pseudo-Prayer & Pursed Lips

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2072:  Jay Carney's Lip Purse while NOT commenting on  Mitt Romney's Visits to the U.K., Israel and Poland