Earlier today Canada's PM Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau and both of their wives attended a ceremony to honor Nathan Cirillo and Patrice Vincent. One year ago today, Corporal Cirillo was shot and killed at the Canadian National War Memorial by gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was also honored. She was murdered in a targeted hit-and-run in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.
Although this image is of lower resolution, there is a tremendous amount of nonverbal information projected in this moment.
One body language display seen here is of profound importance. When, at a funeral, ceremony or important meeting - a person who has both feet planted on the ground (sitting or standing) is feeling and transmitting much more attention and respect. When legs are crossed - the level of engagement and respect which is being thought-felt and projected is significantly lower. This nonverbal signal alone tells us that, at least during the moment which this image was captured, Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire are much more mindful and respectful of Cirillo's passing than are Stephen and Laureen Harper. While it's possible that an etiquette book somewhere says otherwise, this is psychological and physiological truth.
The intertwined fingers of Justin and Sophie also indicates a relatively high level of anxiety. It's not possible here to differentiate if this is being felt because they are now on a heightened national and even World stage - or if it is due to a heightened empathy for Nathan Cirillo's and Patrice Vincent's families - probably both.
Although Mr. Harper may very well be smiling secondary to what the man to his left just said, smiling at such a ceremony as this is very much out-of-context and certainly will be accurately interpreted by most as quite disrespectful and aloof.
Do you see the Partial Emblematic Slip in this photo? It's a fantastic example of an extremely reliable symbol which tells us the true emotions which, at least one of them feels.
This website serves as an objective reference source for the science and art of Body Language/Nonverbal Communication. In an effort to be both practical and academic, many examples from/of varied cultures, politicians, professional athletes, legal cases, public figures, etc. are cited in order to teach and illustrate both the interpretation of others’ body language as well as the projection of one’s own nonverbal skills in many different contexts – not to advance any political, religious or other agenda.
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3348: Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad and the World Stage
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2829: Respect, Funerals, Memorials and Alpha vs. Beta - Body Language Tells
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2043: Foot Position at a Funeral/Receiving of Remains Ceremony - Respect vs. Disrespect
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3318: Barack Obama and Pope Francis