Monday, August 24, 2015

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3287: Hillary Clinton, Email Servers and Crisis Management - Body Language (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Crisis Management, Crisis Management, Crisis Management.

What the vast majority of politicians (and those who coach them) never realize - is that their body language will dictate the whole flavor of a speech - the entire appearance. Otherwise, those who "steer with their words" leave us with the feeling of painting over dirt - it lowers likability and destroys rapport. It just doesn't feel right. The nonverbal signals are the foundation on which the feel of anyone's personality is projected. If you have any doubts at all on this point, please recall any awkward dates from your teenage years.

Of crucial importance during anything resembling a debate or question and answer session, quality body language engenders favorable vocal qualities (tone of voice and other paralanguage parameters) and these two together help the words to flow. Those who try to work with the words first will drown in an ocean of poor acting and insincerity (e.g. "The Emperor's New Clothes").

In her speech last week in Las Vegas, Hillary Clinton defended using a personal server for her U.S. State department emails. She reacted very poorly to questioning - particularly for a politician with her level of experience. One of many mistakes she committed is that she let her own nonverbal signals dial-up her anxiety and anger. She reinforced these negative emotions in a self-destructive feedback-loop because she simply does not recognize one fundamental use of body language.

One example (although there are many) is the manner in which the former Secretary of State does not understand that her high hand tension will also facilitate facial tension - therefore up-regulating anger, frustration, impatience, etc. (all of which she exhibited in this press conference). Conversely hand gestures (termed "Illustrators" in body language parlance) which are relaxed and open (yet still with some assertiveness - thus alpha-beta hybrids) will act as a control panel for her emotional tone, her facial expressions - and as far as this appearance is concerned - it also will elevate her credibility and trustworthiness.

 Mrs. Clinton is trying to use the politician's point - yet here she pinches her forefinger (aka index finger) together with her thumb. This action increases her facial tension. When Hillary is defensive or angry (like many other human beings) has a strong tendency to tilt her head/neck back and look "down her nose" at those to whom she's speaking. This loses her boatloads of likability

More hand tension - ergo more facial tension.

And .... Boom! Out comes anger.

Of course, like all of us, Mrs. Clinton is allowed to feel anger - yet if she wants to be elected President, she should NOT suppress it, but channel her anger. She's not doing this and the voting public can feel it.

Hillary in 2013 using the "Politician's Point". Note the correlation between a relaxed hand and a relaxed face. This is still assertive, still consistent with strong leadership qualities - and with the added benefit of Mrs. Clinton conducting her own emotional tempo.

Take care to avoid the "more is better" approach though - for the politician's point (and it's poorly used cousin, the pinch point and its variants) are considerably over-used by many politicians.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3286: Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black & C'est la vie

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3264: Hillary Clinton, Likability, Perceived Trustworthiness and Body Language

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3141: Carly Fiorina "Higher than 90%" Chances She's Running for President

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3281: Donald Trump on "Meet The Press" - Who Does He Talk to for Military Advice?