Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2938: Josh Earnest, Steven Sotloff and ISIS - "Nonverbal Monotone" (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Josh Earnest, the current White House Press Secretary, got news of Steven Sotloff's beheading by ISIS during today's press briefing. The above video and the photos below are excerpts from this briefing.

Mr. Earnest repeated uses his left hand in what in body language parlance is termed an "illustrator" - a subset of what most people term a "gesture". Illustrators are good nonverbal practice - when used in congruency with the words and vocal qualities (paralanguage). In this example Mr. Earnest does nothing of the sort. While he does have some variation - his over-use of identical and/or highly similar gesture results in what amounts to "nonverbal monotone". This practice tells us that he is either significant anxiety, insincerity, naiveté or he's parroting another speaker's behavior (probably President Obama). Which of these emotions/behaviors is responsible?

In addition (and very obvious to most) - not only is the repetitive body language used out of context - why wasn't Mr. Earnest using his right hand/arm? Again - anxiety, insincerity, naiveté or poor mimicry. This unilateral quality amplifies and engenders his lack of variety.  

Think an orchestra conductor doing the exact same thing - yet the music is dramatically variable. If we saw this incongruity, we would know that he was a "fake conductor" and that the orchestra was playing to its own emotion and instincts. This is an identical behavior being displayed by Mr. Earnest.

My condolences to Steven Sotloff, his family and loved-ones.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2937: Vladimir Putin - “If I want to, I can take Kiev in two weeks” and Critical Evaluation

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2495:  The White House, Josh Earnest, Egypt and a Coup

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2835: Jay Carney Resigns - President Obama Shows Us a Body Language Tell

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2061:  David Cameron Defends London Olympics against  Mitt Romney's Remarks -  Alpha Dominance and Illustrators -  Matching Hands and Feet as Sincerity Amplifiers

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2818: The Caring Hand, Palms Up and Building Rapport 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2605: President Obama and Health Insurance Cancellation Fix - and an Alpha-Beta Hybrid Body Language Illustrator

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2910: Becky Hammon, First Female Full-Time NBA Assistant Basketball Coach and an Under-used Body Language Illustrator