Vladimir Putin was interviewed on Thursday 12 September a day after his Op-Ed was published in the New York Times in which he called for American caution and reserve in Syria. Mr. Putin showed a good number of anxiety-correlated body language tells in this exchange. He is not as confident as he would have the World believe.
Vladimir’s right hand is shown here in what is termed as the “spit finger fastball” (because of its similarity to the positioning of the hand necessary for that particular baseball pitch).
Here shown in a close-up, the split finger fastball gesture is a good example of an alpha-beta hybrid hand illustrator. It is a wise hand gesture for a leader to use – for it projects confidence without arrogance and strength without being over-bearing. It also engenders this much sought after, yet rarely delivered persona.
Despite the above noted use of the split finger fastball, Mr. Putin displays a relatively low amount of hand-arm illustrators throughout this interview. This relative rarity of hand gestures behavior is consistent with relatively high levels of anxiety. Mr. Putin is on the world stage as he has never quite been before. He has reasons to be anxious.
At 0:56, the Russian President displays a microexpression of mild fear with an overlaying emotion of regret. This occurred just after Mr. Putin said, "...On September the ninth ..." [MICROEXPRESSION] he then continued his sentence "... we heard John Kerry's statement. He said it's an important issue which needs to be dealt with and we agree...". This was most probably in response to Mr. Putin's calling Mr. Kerry a liar several days ago. Mr. Putin displays this expression multiple times throughout this video.
Another interesting finding is seen throughout the entire length of this interview: Vladimir Putin shifts his weight back and forth from leg to leg. Barring any back injury or arthritis, this constant center-of-gravity shifting is significant for low emotional discomfort and high level of anxiety.
During the 0:41 – 0:44 segment Vladimir displayed an example of a modified fig-leaf. This is a low confidence body language stance rarely used by Putin. This betrays a lower degree of emotional comfort.
Although they are not seen directly, it is evident that during the 1:11 to 1:14 segment, Mr. Putin stands with his feet close together as he slaps his left thigh with his left hand (an example of a MAP, Manipulator, Adaptor, Pacifier). For Mr. Putin in particular (who is advanced in both Sambo and Judo as well as an ex-KGB agent) - this is highly unusual. He looks as if he is momentarily standing at attention. This feet-close is yet another stance conveying lower confidence. Projecting a beta and demure emotional tone, Vladimir is telling us he does NOT feel emotionally comfortable or confident on this particular World Stage.
The Russian President then dials up his alpha a bit by gesturing with the split finger fastball (discussed above).
There were oodles of nonverbals signals in this interview. What others did you spot?
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