Although often ignored, a crucial nonverbal fundamental is to always correlate signals with simultaneous or near-simultaneous verbal language and paralanguage. Within the video above there lies a profound example of this principle.
The word "Appropriate" (when used in its adjective form) is a highly subjective word, which, on the vast majority of occasions, is used in a context so as to posture and feign objectivity. It's also an attempt at projecting authority. However, with extremely high frequency, the use of "appropriate" is also simultaneous with nonverbal signals - such as regret, contempt, disgust, and/or anger.
Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being subjective, but when subjectivity is camouflaged as objectivity - it should always raise red flags.
Toward the end of H.R. McMaster's press conference yesterday, the following question was asked:
JOURNALIST (beginning at 16:26): General McMaster, thank you. General McMaster, um, to put a finer point on it - is there now, an active investigation, into how this information was leaked? And can you tell us about who's running that investigation? And I'd also like to ask you, um, given that President Trump is now going to meeting face-to-face with - literally dozens of foreign leaders, if there are sensitivities - to his discretion and what sort of information to decide to declassify - um, how is that something that you are advising him ahead of this foreign trip?
MCMASTER: Yeah, well, I mean, there, there are no sensitivities in terms of, ah, me, or anybody who's been with the President in many of these engagements. He shares information in a way that is wholly appropriate. And I should just make, I should just make, maybe this statement here that, that the President wasn't even aware, you know [laughs], of where - this information came from. He wasn't briefed on the source or method of the information either - so... ah, I'm sorry this going to have to be the last question. Because we do have the, we do have the President of Turkey coming - I think - momentarily.
During 17:06, coincident with his speaking the last two syllables of the word, "appropriate", and captured in the image above, the National Security Advisor displays a classic expression mixture of regret (primary) and contempt (secondary). This is very evanescent, and thus it's also an example of a microexpression. Please watch this several times at normal speed and then in slow motion.
General McMaster's nonverbal display of regret just as he says, "He shares information in a way that is wholly appropriate", shows us a dramatic disparity between his nonverbal and verbal signals. If he sincerely felt Donald Trump's information sharing was wholly "appropriate", why did he display regret and contempt when making this declaration?
Moreover, a paralanguage tell here, is his use of the qualifier "wholly". McMaster is trying too hard. He's being over-compensatory. If an action is appropriate, the use of the adverb "wholly" further indicates McMaster is rationalizing.
Summary: Despite what he said in yesterday's press conference, General McMaster's nonverbal behavior demonstrates he has significant regret and contempt over the manner in which President Trump shares information.
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