Friday, November 22, 2013

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2616: John Kennedy and Richard Nixon Handshake at Kennedy Inaugural Address, One Body Language Maneuver to Counter a Dominance Display (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Just as notably, it has been almost 53 years since his inauguration. The video above shows his inaugural address as well as his swearing-in by then Chief Justice Earl Warren (later of the Warren Commission).

At the beginning of the video, just after Kennedy takes his Oath of Office, he shakes Chief Warren's hand, then Lyndon Johnson's - and then Richard Nixon's. What follows is a short-lived but significant alpha display by Nixon with Kennedy re-asserting his dominance. JFK examples here (0:45 - 0:49) one method by which the "double-hander" can be countered.

Initially, Kennedy should have first turned his body more completely before reaching for Nixon's hand.

Nixon immediately uses both hands to rapidly configure in the "Politician's Double-Hander". Unfortunately this variety of handshake is ingrained in most politicians' body language repertoire. It sends signals of dominance - (or attempts at dominance) and is very negatively received by most people.

Kennedy begins to turn in order to fully face Nixon.

Kennedy continues to turn

Kennedy is now nearly fully "squared" to Nixon, with his face, torso, hips (and feet - very important though not visible here) towards Nixon.

Kennedy's left hand begins to reach up to grasp Nixon's right arm.

Nixon continues his double-hander.

Kennedy is now asserting counter-dominance over the man he had just defeated in the 1960 election by gripping the former V.P.'s right arm.

Nixon pulls away his left hand - far away (over-compensating much as an over-steering event while driving) leaving him with significantly less alpha. Kennedy now has the dominance advantage while continuing to grasp Nixon's right arm.

Both men now disengage their handshake, however Kennedy continues to assert his Presidential dominance by still holding Nixon's right elbow - and in effect "getting the last word".

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2134:  A Watershed Body Language Moment:  Nixon - Kennedy Debates 1960

Nonverbal Communication Negotiation Secret # 323:  I am Not a Crook!

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2104:  Mitt Romney's Convention Speech - Part II

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2609: John Kennedy in 1959 on "Face The Nation", "Are You Running for President?" - What His Body Language says

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1085:  Low Confidence vs. High Confidence  Kennedy and Eisenhower

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2577: Bill Clinton and Terry McAuliffe - Alpha and Beta Body Language

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2595: Barack Obama's Emotional Dissonance, Low Confidence and the "Turtle Retreat" - He Does Not Want To Be There