Barack Obama, along the other heads-of-state, has been meeting at the United Nations General Assembly the last several days. During this segment of his speech where he spoke of ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State, President Obama committed a highly significant body language faux pas on multiple occasions - which for him is rare. In this brief video (above), the President used the index finger (forefinger) point nine times. Some were certainly less obtrusive - such as pointing downwards (3:06 - 3:10) and others when he pointed briefly at himself or to his right (2:48, 2:45 and 2:19 - 2:21), however with the majority of these - he pointed directly at the audience (see below). Index finger pointing is a profoundly negative nonverbal and moreover it's considered universally offensive in virtually every culture and subculture on the Earth. This has been true throughout recorded history.
The President has much better body language instinct than average - so why was he off his game yesterday? People who point with their forefingers with high frequency (and not just on a given occasion) have an extremely high rate of narcissism. It is also important to consider the autism spectrum disorders. Barack Obama does not point frequently. Two other possible causes include anger and/or alpha emotional tones - both of which are playing out in these speeches. What are some other thought-emotions correlative with a forefinger point?
Politicians will often point at their audiences when in front of their political base - which is still not recommended (yet there is wider latitude for mistakes is allotted in such scenarios). However it is very unwise to do so when seeking rapport, votes or trying to building a coalition - all of which are needed here.
There were several other highly significant nonverbal errors used in this speech. How many of these have you also committed recently?
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0:40 - 0:41
1:58 - 1:59
2:19 - 2:21
2:23 - 2:24
3:06 - 3:10
3:37 - 3:39
4:19 - 4:21