Friday, November 14, 2014

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3012: Tony Abbott "No Shirtfronts" Vladimir Putin at APEC - (yet he buttons-up) - Body Language Tells (PHOTO)


Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is on record saying he would "shirtfront" Vladimir Putin regarding Russia's alleged involvement, albeit indirectly, in the missile-downing of Malaysian Airlines MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014. The colloquial, "To Shirtfront", is an Australian Rules football term meaning "to head-on charge aimed at bumping an opponent to the ground" - and although Mr. Abbott was of course speaking metaphorically - it remains to be seen if something close to a diplomatic equivalent has been performed.

The above photo was taken at the APEC Summit four days ago in Beijing - and although it is a still image, much can be gleaned from Tony's and Vladimir's nonverbals. Mr. Abbott is in the process of buttoning his jacket, and although heads-of-state are always concerned with their image and thus being photographed - buttoning one's jacket during a conversation very often indicates a closed-mindedness and/or disbelief in what the other party is saying (e.g. If you're a sales person - it's one example of an absolute wrong time to attempt to close a sale). Also Mr. Abbott's eyebrows are lowered and although it's difficult to fully discern from this angle, appear to be somewhat drawn together. His nostrils are flared, there is mild mid-facial tension, and his eyelids are nearly closed. This nonverbal cluster-context indicates that whatever explanation the Russian President is giving him, Mr. Abbott is not buying it. He is feeling primarily incredulous with some significant anger component in this moment.

Mr. Putin's forehead is not fully visible, although a mild "Central Forehead Contraction" (CFC) is seen here. Together with a mouth smile, the CFC is consistent with incredulity, arrogance, contempt - or insincerity (depending on the other nonverbals with which it is clustered). This is very bad expression for any politician to adopt - and Mr. Putin is certainly not alone in such bad acting - for many politicians make this expression (from every single political stripe) while attempting to project empathy - yet almost no one can ever consistently and accurately "act" empathetic. Chronic insincerity together with low or absent empathy equals a sociopath personality.

The G20 Summit which has just begun in Brisbane will undoubtedly bring some more telling body language.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2771: Australian PM Tony Abbott regarding Malaysian Airlines MH370 Search - Body Language Misinterpretations and Regret

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No 2893: Petro Poroshenko - Downed Malaysia Air MH17 - like 9/11 & Pan Am Flight 103

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2892: Alexander Borodai - Donetsk's People's Republic Prime Minister (Pro-Russian Separatist Leader) interview with Chris Cuomo regarding Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 - Body Language

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3011: Jennifer Lawrence on David Letterman - Tongue-in-Cheek Body Language

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3009: Vladimir Putin, Chivalry and China's first lady Peng Liyuan

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3010: McStay Family Murders - Body Language Signs of a Sociopath