Friday, December 31, 2010

Flirting and Romance Secret # 49: The Straight-Legged X

Celebrity Maria Lane is shown here in the "Straight-Legged X" position.  This is a signal that her intention is to stay where she's at - but that there is also a closed or stand-offish emotional state.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Romance Secret # 17 & 35:
Palm Contact & Affection and Smiling on Demand

Although it is largely a posed photograph, there are components of spontaneity here. Prince William and his fiancée Kate Middleton are shown in an embrace - and the detail to notice is the amount of contact. William's  arms and hands are in full contact, including palms - indicating significant and deep affection. When love wanes, there is less and less contact. Eventually the palms will rarely touch the other's body- just the finger tips will make contact. Not so here. Kate's palm on William's chest signifies "ownership" and passionate feelings as well. 

On a slightly different note however, William needs to work on his smile.  Remember - a true smile doesn't expose the lower teeth. The corners of his mouth of the Prince's mouth are pulled out to the sides instead of primarily upwards as Kate so nicely demonstrates. In his defense though, he has had to "smile on demand" his whole life and such exposure makes it tough to summon up a true, felt smile on command. His father, Prince Charles, also has this flaw to his "social smile".


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Leadership Secret # 34: Avoiding Low Confidence Displays

LeAnn Rimes and Ty Pennington are shown here at the recent 44th Annual Country Music Awards in Nashville, Tennessee presenting the Song of the Year Award.  Ms. Rimes demonstrates a "cluster" of low confidence signs in this photo. Of course, no lady should stand with her legs too far apart, but when they're too close together - regardless of your gender - it transmits strong signals of low confidence.

Ms. Rimes' hands are grasping the envelope with the winner's name enclosed inside - but when anyone holds an object or their clasped hands (or both) in front of their privates, it is a strong sign of low confidence.  Too many "leaders" - or those in leadership positions who fancy themselves leaders - adopt this low confidence stance.  The larger the object used in this subconscious blocking maneuver, the lower their comfort level. Holding ones hands or an object in such a fashion also pulls the shoulders forward in a hunched over fashion - and although Ms. Rimes is doing a pretty good job at minimizing this hunching - contrast this against Ty Pennington's posture with his arms and hands in back with his shoulders drawn back.

LeAnn also is tilting her head down - in this context it is another sign of low confidence, low comfort and vulnerability - as it protects the vulnerable neck.  Seek to have the bottom of your chin parallel with the floor - this is a neutral position. Lastly, Ms. Rimes is looking downwards with her eyes - which is often seen coupled with the downward tilted head and in times of sadness, vulnerability and low confidence.

As you become more accomplished in the Science and art of Body Language - you'll be able to see several gestures/signs at once - these are known as "gesture clusters" and when several congruent ones are seen together - your accuracy in interpretation will dramatically increase.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Flirting and Romance Secret # 33: Assessing their Derrière

Matt Cardle, who is the winner of the most recent TV singing competition on the X Factor, flirts with an unknown woman in the Lobby of a Hotel in London.  Whenever we walk away from another, out of a room, down a hall or across the street - they around us will check out our butts. This happens largely on an unconscious level and is more scrutinizing when it involves the opposite sex. Women are aware of this phenomenon more than men - although it's still occurs mostly subconsciously. Did you ever notice that before a woman gets out of her car, walks into a store/restaurant or stands up at a meeting - regardless of her size or shape, she straightens her clothes, particularly those covering her derrière? In both men and women, the size and shape of the buttocks are indicative of overall health and vitality - and thus the potential as a mate - and this biology is hardwired into our brains.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 12:
Subtle Anger with Disrespect/Mistrust/Dislike

Camilla Belle is shown here in what the photograph caption was originally labeled as "...relaxed as she has a business meeting..." at The Grove in West Los Angeles.  This may have indeed been a business meeting, but her emotional state is certainly not relaxed. In this photo she is angry and does not like and does not believe the man she is meeting with. 

The gorgeous actress does a pretty good impression - at least in her eyes - of Clint Eastwood in a spaghetti western.  This is not the kind of "squinting" or eyelid closure seen with a sincere smile - rather this is consistent with anger.  In addition, while Ms. Belle's eyes are gazing (laterally) at the man with whom she's meeting - her head and body are pointed away from him. We don't look directly at those we don't like, trust or respect. Moreover, Camilla's mid-face is tightened and her mouth is down-turned at the corners. While anyone can spot anger and dislike in the extreme, we should all endeavor to detect these emotions in their subtlest forms. How much are you missing?


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 16: Deception Detection DJ's Daughter

Amber Stevens, daughter of Shadoe Stevens, is shown here scratching her philtrum (the medial
cleft which runs from the center-bottom of the nose to the central-upper lip). This is an example
of an "Adaptor" which is highly correlative with hearing a lie. Her head is tilted down and her
body and face are oblique to whomever she is looking at. We don't face/look directly at those
who we don't trust or don't like. She is at a public gathering and since she enjoys some celebrity
status, Ms. Stevens sports a pretty good "social smile". Except for her social smile though,
Amber is displaying a gesture cluster consistent with  anxiety at the time of this photo - and there's
a pretty good chance that she believes she's just heard a lie.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Leadership Secret # 17:
The Only Time for the Politicians' Double Hander

Politicians are well known for their "Double-Hander" handshakes, in which they will sandwich your right hand with both of their's.  The Double-hander is universally received as negative - interpreted as "inappropriately friendly" at best - and patronizing and condescending by most - yet many people, especially politicians continue to use it.  However there is one occasion to use the double-hander - it's one of two ways to counter an overly-dominant handshake.

Here, United States President, Barack Obama was briefly in the dominant handshake position in two ways - a moment before this photo was taken.  First, he is on the left side of the photo. This is considered dominant because his hand will be closer to the crowd (and cameras), much more visible and thus perceived to be "on top" even if it's in the neutral/vertical position.  Additionally, Mr. Obama has maneuvered his hand to be even more dominant by rotating his arm inwards (clockwise from Obama's point-of-view) & thus his hand is on top of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's hand. This is easy for a taller man to do - for his height affords greater leverage.  Mr. Singh is left with two ways to counter this double-dominant handshake - he has chosen the simplest - by "sandwiching" Mr. Obama's right hand between both of his.

Like a game on the playground though, Mr. Obama further counters Mr. Singh's sandwiching using the last counter-move remaining - to put his left hand on Prime Minister Singh's upper back/right shoulder region - which he does here. Although it would have been a bit more dominant if Obama's hand was on the top/front of Singh's shoulder - so that the audience could visualize his fingers/hands (and Singh would feel more patronized) - Obama nuances the narrow grey zone of not being "overly-alpha" and thus builds rapport.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Relationship Secret # 26: Empathizing with Dexter

Michael C. Hall holds his upper abdomen/lower chest a day after he announced his breakup with wife and co-star Jennifer Carpenter.  When a person holds his abdomen or chest, particularly when the palm makes contact, not just the fingertips - this can be a sign of major emotional distress.  There is also subtle contracture of his central, lower forehead - which is also a significant sign of distress. We can all empathize with feeling similar emotions "in the pit of our stomachs".

It's interesting to note that usually there is a correlation between how recent and sudden the event is (not necessarily the severity) and how high a person touches - covering the chest is more significant than the abdomen - progressing to the neck, mouth and even eyes.  A notable exception to this is seen in pregnant women - they will instinctively protect their child and cover their lower belly. 


Monday, December 13, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 45: Faith Hill's Inward Lip Roll

Faith Hill gives us a beautiful demonstration of an Inward Lip Roll (ILR).  Here she is attending the
ceremony for Gwenyth Paltrow receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The inward
lip roll is a nonverbal sign of increased anxiety and stress. It often has a component of anger or sadness. 
This body language signals that the emotional brain is attempting to down-regulate the negative emotion.
The lips are an extremely sensitive tissue and touching one or both with the hand/fingers, tongue, teeth
or other lip is an example of a manipulator/adaptor/pacifier.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Negotiation and Dating Secret # 111:
The Great Phone Tell

There's no diplomatic way to say this, but those who hold their cell phones with their elbows high and straight out to their sides have big egos (exceptions - see below). This is especially true when it's done in public and in crowds. It is a dominance display and it's rarely seen in women. It's typically seen in  alpha-males with narcissistic tendencies, however it can also be seen in beta-males when there are women in close proximity to whom there is an attraction or if he feels the need to project confidence (e.g. constructive or nonconstructive criticism of a subordinate). But in these circumstances, this nonverbal signal is only temporary. If it's seen consistently, then it's a very reliable sign of an "excessive alpha", narcissistic personality. All the ladies out there take note - when the man in your life holds the phone this way - always approach with caution. In the business world - this is a sign that he will probably be very difficult to deal with. Despite what he may say, he will be thinking, "What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine." Come prepared with a strong plan B in your back pocket.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Flirting and Romance Secret # 11: Hips, Thighs, and Feet

Actress Kseniya Rappoport, on the far right of this photograph does not feel a kinship to the rest of the group or an individual in the group.  Our feet, legs and hips are often the most telling and honest parts of our bodies. The further we keep our lower body from other people, the less comfortable we are with them - whether it be professionally, platonically or romantically. When it comes to romance, this is a particularly telling sign - we only let our hips close to those we find sexually attractive. Ms. Rappoport's pigeon-toed feet are an additional signal of her discomfort.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Flirting and Romance Secret # 25: Hair Preening

When a woman adjusts her hair with her arms raised and thus her armpits exposed, it is a form of preening - she is attracted to someone in the vicinity and she's putting herself on display. Here Actress Valeria Golino is shown at the International Rome Film Festival.  This is a sexually provocative gesture that occurs at the edge of consciousness or entirely subconsciously.  Like many body language signals, in this context this maneuver occurs with the other gestures that are congruent.  These groups of gestures are known as "Gesture Clusters".  Here, the raising of the arms also puts the breasts on display as well as releasing pheromones / vomodors from the armpit. These chemical messengers act on the olfactory system to powerfully and subliminally attract lovers. This signal is not to be confused with other seemingly similar signals - manipulators, adaptors & pacifiers - which may also involve hair adjustment, but have completely different meanings.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Body Language Secret # 53: Charlie Rangel & The Puffer Fish

Here Charlie Rangel is shown at a press briefing after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to censure him. His expression displayed here is the "Puffer Fish". It's seen almost exclusively seen just before or more commonly  following a stressful event. I've seen great examples of this in surgeons after difficult surgeries, in athletes just  prior to their games/events, in students just before big exams and in attorneys before trial. Always remember, a person's words will often be incongruent with their body language. It is much more reliable to trust the nonverbal message over the spoken word.

If you see the Puffer Fish - you can be sure that a major stressful event is immediately anticipated (of which the outcome and expectation is generally known) or just has taken place. If the display of stress seems out of place with the event, this should raise a big red flag in your mind.

The Puffer Fish nonverbal is associated with a decreased in respiration, heart rate and blood pressure and it occurs during exhalation (although it may occur over several cycles of respiration). The Puffer Fish's purpose is to have a calming effect.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 7:
Classic (partial) Fear Expression

This Arizona Cardinals fan is showing a classic fear expression in her mouth and neck in the fourth quarter of the game against the 49ers. Notice how this lady's mouth is stretched wide and downward - often with this classic arch. The muscles beneath the lower lip become bunched-up - giving the appearance of a protruding chin. Her neck muscles (platysma) are also tightly contracted. This is not a full-on fear expression however, since her eyes show little involvement. With more pronounced fear, her eyes would be opened very wide - what I call "White and Wide". Notice also that her hands are in a praying position - this is a very common emblem seen at sporting events - almost always at the end of the game/match. 

We tend to think of fear arising from a life threatening event or an extreme situation - which is of course very true - but it is also very common that fear is expressed over a more everyday event - like a football game or a business-related issue as long as there is significant emotional attachment. As with any emotion, the expression of fear may be prolonged or very fleeting. Fear is an extremely common microexpression - appearing for less than 0.5 of a second and as little as 0.04 of a second!


Friday, December 3, 2010

Business Body Language Secret # 33:
Thumbs Forward Arms Akimbo

When accessing or using the "Arms Akimbo" stance, it is very important to note whether the thumbs are facing forward or the fingers are forward as these two variations have dramatically different meanings. Here, Actor Zelda Williams - daughter of Robin Williams is show outside Las Palmas nightclub in Hollywood. When someone's thumbs facing forward, this indicates a supportive, friendly and inquisitive emotional tone (Navarro, Pease).  It is more common in women and very common among mothers gathered at the playground.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Confidence Secret # 19: Don't Talk to Me

Jason Statham is a tough guy, an action hero actor, so I wouldn't want to tell this to his face, but walking with your hands in your pockets is like flashing a neon sign of low confidence and disengagement. A lot of men do this in public when they're not in familiar surroundings or they're not with familiar people.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Leadership Secret # 33: A Conditioned Response to ....

Texas Christian University's Athletic Director Chris Del Conte is shown here at a press conference discussing TCU's acceptance of an invitation for membership into The Big East Conference. Unless you are going for comic relief though, the Double-Victory Sign, is an emblem that should never be used - especially if you are in a leadership role. It has too strong of a negative conditioned-response trigger to Richard Nixon's resignation. Even if you weren't born when it happened, you probably have a very strong visual memory of this, either via photos or parody - a pose he struck just prior to embarking on Marine-One. Many a comedian have satirized the former President with this pose.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Crime Prevention Signal # 12:
Mild to Moderate Disgust, Mohamed Osman Mohamud
Portland, Oregon Christmas Tree Lighting Bomb Plot

This is a photo of Mohamed Osman Mohamud. It was released by the Multnomah County Sheriff's office. Although Mr. Mohamud grew up in Somalia, he's is a naturalized American Citizen.  He was just arrested for a plot to detonate a bomb at the Portland Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Downtown Portland, Oregon.  Here he is showing classic signs of mild to moderate disgust. Mr. Mohamud's "mustache area" is tightened and his upper lip is raised. His lower lip is also elevated and protruding. His nostrils are slightly dilated and his forehead is relaxed. Once again, this is and example of mild to moderate disgust - somewhat difficult to spot, but you don't want to miss it. Frequent and prolonged displays of disgust and contempt (even if subtle) can be warning signs as they are strong, negative emotions; and while they're contextually displayed every day by most everyone, they're also common emotions displayed by those who have strong ideological basis for committing crimes and acts of violence.

see also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2251: Updated FBI Photo of Escaped Convict Kenneth Conley - What Warning Signs do you see in his Body Language?


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Relationship Secret # 2:
We are Programmed to Smile Back

When someone smiles at us, we are programmed to smile back. This is very evident with infants, but it is also very noticeable with other adults, even between strangers. This is true with all facial expressions. If you frown, there is a strong tendency to bring on frowns in others; angry expressions elicits others to be angry, etc. This is not just a Sesame Street jingle, but scientific fact. Much of this, indeed most of it in the first second or two, occurs below the level of consciousness.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 29:
Eye Rub When Someone Else is Speaking -
Angela doubts Vladimir

When another is speaking and a listener rubs one eye, there is a very high probability that the listener doesn't believe what the speaker is saying. It is not the same signal if the listener rubs both eyes though - beware of this pit fall. Here, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel listens as Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin is speaking. We don't know what Mr. Putin was saying at this particular moment, but we highly doubt Ms. Merkel believes him.


Nonverbal Communication Secret # 48:
A Lizard Tongue gives us a Great Glimpse into
Katie Holmes' Psyche

This is Actress Katie Holmes exhibiting a great example of a "Lizard Tongue". Depending on its context and other body language signals seen with it, a tongue-jut can have several meanings: I got caught, I've been bad, I got away with something, excitement or I did something silly (Navarro). It can also indicate self-deprecating humor depending on the other nonverbals with which it is clustered. The Lizard Tongue is not to be confused with the "Tongue in Cheek" nonverbal, wherein the tongue is pushed to one side, against the inside of the cheek, and is often not visible. When you see the tongue-jut - take note as it is often seen with a "serious face" and in business or other formal settings.

See also:

Secret #1599: Roger Clemens Lying Before Congress?

Secret # 1153: President Obama's Tongue in Cheek


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 54:
The Manubrial Touch Betrays Our Feelings

Rachel Reupke is a audiovisual artist from London. Here she is shown at the Zinebi Short Film and Documentary Festival in Bilbao, Spain on November 23, 2010. Her right hand is massaging her neck and and specifically touching & covering her "Manubrium". This is the (proper anatomical) name for the top of the "breast bone" (manubrium-sternum bone). This particular self-touching is a very common Manipulator-Adaptor-Pacifier (Navarro). If you search your visual memory, most everyone can recall seeing this many times. Upon searching your memory further, you will remember that this gesture was often accompanied by significant (sometimes underlying) emotion. It is a more commonly observed behavior with women/girls/boys, although men do this as well.  A common adult-male equivalent is the false tie-adjustment. Both are significant signs of anxiety, concern, discomfort, fear, worry or vulnerability - and they're very reliable.

Interestingly, and similar to the thought process which hopefully accompanies any medical diagnosis, an absence of a sign or symptom can be just as significant as its presence. I am reminded here of the Sherlock Holmes Short Story (by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who, like myself, a physician), "Silver Blaze", where Holmes says, "the curious incident of the dog in the night-time is now easily explained: the dog made no noise because no stranger was there...Obviously the midnight visitor was someone whom the dog knew well". When anyone is known to use this gesture, and yet it is not seen during times when they're recounting stories which would normally cause significant anxiety, stress or discomfort - this lack should call into question their honesty.  The same is true of any other body language signs which are "normal" for a given individual in a specific emotional state.

It's a mystery why Sarah Palin, a former governor and many other well-financed, educated, powerful, and otherwise well-informed people don't seek out body language expertise before they (or their publicist, campaign manager, etc.) choose photographs which send signals that they don't want to send. Insecurity, anxiety and vulnerability are not qualities that anyone would want to show deliberately. A public relations faux pas.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Processing Emotional Information:
Negotiation Secret # 55

John Key, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, speaks at a press conference in Greymouth regarding the 29 miners trapped in the Pike River coal mine. Sadly, all 29 miners are believed to have perished. When processing emotional thought, 95% of right-handed people (Mr. Key is right-handed) look down and to their right. While we do not know what Mr. Key was saying at the precise moment of this photograph, but we know for certain he was feeling a sincere emotional connection with these miners and their families.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Leadership Secret # 22:
Inspiring Confidence vs. Looking Vulnerable

William Reilly, the co-chair of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, looks on during preliminary a hearing regarding BP's Macondo well accident-blowout. This photo was taken in Washington, D.C. on November 8, 2010. 

The gesture adopted here by Mr. Reilly is an interesting one considering he is in a government appointed position of investigation. While we don't know what Mr. Reilly was thinking at the moment of this photo (he could have just remembered that he forgot to pay his mortgage or that he was hearing some gruesome testimony detailing the tragic deaths of the workers who perished in the accident) this particular "Praying with Mouth Covering" gesture/expression is only seen when there is significant emotional involvement and is consistent with worry or concern.  It is not a gesture that displays nor does it inspire confidence - thus it is rarely seen in experienced leaders.

If you've ever watched a rescue live or even on T.V., you'll commonly see the "Praying with Mouth Covering" signal adopted by those around you. I saw this displayed during the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and more recently with the rescue of the Chilean Mine workers. It can be also be seen in every close sporting event if you look in the faces of some of the spectators. Below is the sister of Helio Castroneves, Katiucia, as she watches her brother in the final laps of the Indy 500 on May 24, 2009. Moments later he won the race.

So when you see anyone adopting this gesture, you can be sure there is great emotional involvement and empathy. Although empathy is a crucial quality of all good leaders, it is important if you're in a position of leadership, to keep this body language signal to an absolute minimum since it does not display, nor does it inspire confidence.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 14: The Double-L plus ....

Say you're sitting across from this expression at the negotiation table - what do you think the other party is truly feeling (despite what they may say)? This is a very "real-world" and common scenario and yet the answer remains elusive for all but a few. Andras Simor, Governor of the National Bank of Hungary has negative feelings towards the opinion he is hearing. To evaluate this negative cluster, lets begin with his left hand covering his mouth and his thumb supporting his chin in a "double-L" formation. This alone should be enough to send up an alert in your mind (Although we are unable to see if it is present here, the double-L is often accompanied by the opposite arm folded across the chest - which is a strong signal of a closed-off and defensive mindset). 

Mr. Simor's upper lip is thinned which is a significant sign of anger - warning number two. In addition, Andras' head is tilted down and forward which is another strong signal of negative emotional tone - a further minus. Lastly the Governor's face is not turned directly at the person of interest, but only partially so - leaving the eyes to do the rest of the work - and even they are falling short in this photo. We look directly at those we respect, like and believe and not doing so strongly suggests opposite feelings. The ability to spot this and other critical evaluation clusters will give you a distinct advantage in negotiations. How many have you missed this week?


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 40: Can You Spot Mild Anger?

Real Madrid's Coach, Jose Mourinho is giving us a great example of mild anger. Even an infant can spot severe or moderate anger, but many a learned adult will gloss right over mild examples. Jose's eye brows are pulled down and together. The somewhat subtle vertical creases above his nose are signals as well. And although he's no Leonid Brezhnev, it doesn't help that Jose has a bit of a "Mono-brow". Unfortunately, this adds to others' impressions of anger. Shave it or wax it Mr. Mourinho - lest people think you're angry when you're not.

Also conspicuous for anger, is the partial closure of the Coach's eyes (lids) along with a horizontal tightening of his lower eyelids. The "mustache area" above the mouth, as well as the lips themselves, will also classically tighten in the context anger. This is accompanied by a narrowing of the lips. Finally, a dilation or "flaring" of the nostrils is consistent with anger as well as disgust. Don't miss subtle anger - for it has teeth - and you will get hurt.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Leadership Secret # 39: Facial Hair and Perception

It's been 102 years since a U.S. President has been elected with facial hair - William Taft, 1908. Although I haven't got a chance to review the newly elected crop of Senators, currently there are none with facial hair and less than 10 percent of the U.S. House members are included in this group.  About 33 percent of American men and 50 percent of men World-wide sport a beard, goatee or mustache.  In the last 100 years with the crescendo of photography, video and media in general, the presence of any facial hair in the American male Population has waned.

Many studies have concluded that facial hair invokes feelings of distrust in others. Incredibly intriguing and in what should make any doubters take heed - this negative emotion-invoking property of facial hair has been shown to be very strong in PREVERBAL children. Thus, these negative feelings are "unlearned" to a degree as we age, but remain partially or entirely buried in our psyche - something to consider if you're in, or seeking, a position of leadership.

We all like to think we are the exception to the statistical rule. However, we are not really thinking - as much as we are rationalizing. 


Sincerity Secret # 53: Surprise giving way to Fear

Surprise is the most fleeting of all emotions. The distinction between real surprise and false surprise helps differentiate sincerity vs insincerity. If apparent surprise lasts more than a few seconds, there is at least a component of it that is false or exaggerated. It's almost always is followed by a second moderate to strong emotional response - commonly anger, fear, embarrassment, laughter, relief, or disgust. Here, Aiden Grimshaw (of The U.K.'s X Factor fame)is experiencing fear after initial true surprise. Because surprise is so brief, photos of pure surprise are rare, and most of those examples are blended with another emotion - as demonstrated here with Mr. Grimshaw. Both surprise and fear cause the eyes to be opened very widely - which I call "White and Wide", and with the additional bearing of Aiden's teeth (especially his bottom teeth) in the context of a dropped jaw and a widely open mouth is a sure signal of an of element fear rushing in.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Negotiation Secret #22: Critical Evaluation Cluster

When a right-handed person is speaking and their eyes momentarily look down and to their right during the conversation - there is a high probability ( >90% ) that they are processing an emotional issue. With left-handed individuals, this is often reversed (down and to the left).

Tiger's hands are clenched and raised while blocking his mouth in this photo. It is clear that he does not like what he is hearing and his subsequent thoughts are unpleasant. This is a  clear signal of non-engagement and a hesitantly to speak. It's particularly true when the fingers are interlaced, ala' Mr. Woods at this Shanghai news conference. Notice how his thumbs are supporting his chin - this is also a classical critical evaluation sign.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Speaker Secret # 33: Transparency in Words and in Actions

Podiums and lecterns get in the way. People don't trust what they cannot see. When you can, try not to use them - for it distances and insulates you from your audience. But if you are required to, or feel like you have to, there are ways to minimize this effect. Here, Jerry Brown, the newly elected Governor of California, solves the problem by using a plexiglass podium - which is a great idea for politicians. Always remember to keep your hands visible too - at or above the level of the top of the lectern. Mr. Brown is resting them on the front-corners, which is a good position, as long as it's not overdone. Never put your hands in your pockets. It sends signals of disengagement and concealment. It's also a good idea to walk out from behind the podium, and depending on the setting, audience and your profession - you may even want to walk out among them. The over-riding theme here is to keep yourself visible. With all other things being equal, you'll be much better received and believed.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nevada Business Magazine

I'm very flattered to have an article about my body language work published in this month's Nevada Business Magazine.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 50:
Sincerity with Defensiveness

Zana Marjanovic was up until recently, a largely unknown Bosnian actor. Not any more. Angelina Jolie has recently chosen her to play one of the leads in her directorial debut about a Serbian man and a Bosnian woman who fall in love on the eve of the Bosnian War. Zana's smile is sincere - with a relaxed forehead, eyes partially closed, cheeks raised & bunched-up, her upper lip raised exposing the top teeth, while the lower teeth are covered by the bottom lip - are all consistent with sincerity.

Because she has recently come into the acting world's limelight, it is natural that she would be somewhat less than 100% confident. We see evidence of this in her arm-crossing - which is a signal of defensiveness, a desire not to engage, or a closed-off emotional mindset. I have no doubt that her smile is sincere and her joy at landing this life-changing role is very real. But going from the farm team to the major leagues is intimidating and she's experiencing emotional dissonance. She's a professional actor, and better than most at hiding her emotions - but just like the rest of us, the truth always leaks out.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 55: What is Bill saying?

This is a great photo of former President Bill Clinton. First look at his mouth. Mr. Clinton is biting on his lower lip. In this context lip biting is a sign of anxiety or self-restraint. It may also signify concentration. Bill has much more body language instinct than almost any other politician in the last half century, and yet he's committing the major mistake of putting his hands in pockets. This is a clear signal that he doesn't want to talk or engage. These emotions are certainly understandable, but surely he doesn't realize that he's projecting these feelings.


Negotiation Secret # 35:
What's the other meaning of this gesture?

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is demonstrating a classic gesture. When the index finger and thumb are held close, but do not touch - in addition to the obvious "a little bit" or "a small amount" - it's is also a signal of uncertainty, hesitancy or ambivalence.


Sincerity Secret # 30: The Suppressed Smile

Actor Claudia Zanella sports a Suppressed Smile during the premiere of "Portrait of My Father" at the 5th International Film Festival in Rome. We, of course, can't say why she doesn't want to fully smile from just one photograph, but after a look at Claudia's lower face -  it's obvious she's working hard to prevent showing off her pearly whites. We've all seen this expression, and we've all displayed it many times. Sometimes, this particular facial signal can be mistaken for a pursing of the lips. But the contraction of the larger cheek and jaw muscles - rather than primarily the lips, rules out lip pursing. Ms. Zanella's eyes are also partially closed, which is an absolute requirement for a sincere smile.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 56:
Surprise with a Touch of Fear

Photos of sincere surprise are unusual to rare. In the picture above, representative Debbie Halvorson is experiencing significant surprise as she talks to former President, Bill Clinton. With both surprise and fear the eyes go "White and Wide". That is, the eyelids open so wide, that the white part of the eye (sclera) is exposed above the iris (colored part of eye). With even more extreme surprise, we may have even been able to see the whites below the iris as well. Representative Halvorson's eyebrow and here entire forehead are also raised considerably - both findings consistent with surprise.

Debbie's mouth is primarily that of surprise, being so widely open, but the exposure of her teeth is significant for a partial component of fear. Mr. Clinton is telling her some unpleasant news that has elements of both emotions. Surprise is the shortest of all emotions, lasting only as second or two, and it is often followed by fear, anger, laughter, embarrassment, relief, disgust or some other emotion. This is what's happening here - surprise followed by fear.


Sincerity Secret #11: Giada's False Smile -
The Exaggerated Cheese

Giada De Laurentiis is a gorgeous lady and a great chef with an incredibly insincere smile. I wish I could cook like her, and I'd love to have my own television show, but Giada needs a little practice in the smile department. The top half of her face is doing a pretty good job at a "Social Smile" - her eyes are partially closed and her forehead is fairly relaxed.

When you look at Ms. De Laurentiis's mouth though, it is reminiscent of elementary school on picture day - "Say cheese!" When a sincere smile is displayed, the lower teeth are just not visible unless you're looking down from considerable height at the "smiler". Giada's bottom teeth are nearly as visible as her top ones. This is because her mouth is stretched out to the sides (similar to that of a fear display) rather than primarily upwards as they would be in a sincere smile.

If I were coaching this beautiful cook, among other things, I'd tell Giada that the best way to have a sincere appearing smile is to "Lead with your eyes, and your mouth will follow".


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sincerity Secret # 31: The Pout Consideration

Actor Sophie Marceau gives us a classic "Pout Consideration" during a press conference with fellow actor Christopher Lambert. The Pout Consideration, when seen for a second or two (an intermediate length of time), is an attempt to try and say, "I'm considering this", or "That is worthy of consideration" - but when present for this length of time- it is a sign of insincerity.  But when seen for less than half a second (and as little as 0.025 of a second) or for more than a couple of seconds, this gesture of contemplation has much greater credibility.


Negotiation Secret # 15: Losing Points

For those of you who are politicians, CEO's, leaders of any kind or speakers, one thing you never want to do is point with a finger or thumb at anyone in the audience or on-stage.  Here Florida, gubernatorial candidate Republican Rick Scott takes part in a debate against his Democratic counterpart, Alex Sink. He commits a major blunder by pointing at her. One think he probably doesn't know is that this will alienate even his supporters. Pointing is universally received very negatively by all audience members. It makes people squirm.

Rather than point with a finger (or thumb), it is much better to extend the arm in a palms-up gesture. Those who gesture in this fashion are universally judged to be warmer, friendly, open-minded, more diplomatic and better listeners. Learn from Rick's mistake.


Leadership Secret # 21: Dominance-Support

Here former President Bill Clinton accompanies Florida Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate, Alex Sink. Note his hand on her upper back (a variation of this is the hand-on-shoulder). This gesture is often seen in a similar context as it would be between a parent and child - going though doorways, at introductions, when some kind of support or leadership is expected, etc - but unlike the parent-child relationship, the underlying emotions which drive this behavior are often not motivated by support and nurturing, rather they are driven by ego. This is an extremely common gesture for Presidents and former Presidents (of both political parties), CEO's, senators, congressmen, etc. and really for those who are senior in any company or organization. It is always done by the higher ranking person to those more junior and never the other way around. 

Although those on the receiving end of this gesture almost never show it, this particular body language display of dominance-support can be interpreted as patronizing and condescending. It's as if the more senior person feels the physical need to remind the subordinate (or themselves') who's in charge. It can be thought of as variation on the manipulator-adaptor-pacifier (MAP) that is performed on another person, and while it may cause the receiver anxiety, it pacifies the giver. Everyone who has ever been on the receiving end of this gesture knows the awkwardness and uncomfortable feeling this gesture generates. For those of you in power, know that while you may not realize it, this only serves to alienate you from those in whom you are trying to engender trust and devotion.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Negotiation Secrets # 3, 8, and 91

Now I know how the Aliens felt. Sigourney Weaver has got this look down. It's a gesture cluster of anger-aggression. First, although her head is turned, it's not turned directly at the person at which she's looking - her eyes have to turn a good bit further to accomplish this. We don't turn our heads directly at those we don't like, don't trust or don't believe. This is a HUGE take home for today - so if you're on the receiving end of this particular head/face signal, take heed and take action.

Sigourney's lips are extra-thinned out with some tightening of her mid-face. While those lips sure can get thinner, this is already a sure warning sign of at least mild to moderate anger.

And don't forget her eyes. Sigourney's eyes, particularly her left eye is partially closed. We "squint" or partially close our eyes when something angers us or we disagree with an issue, event, person or group. Sigourney is almost as good as Clint Eastwood at this look. Only trouble is - I don't think she's acting here.


Confidence Secret # 14:
High and Low Confidence Drivers:
Arms Akimbo and Assertive Attitudes

Contrast these two pictures (above and below) of the talented Actor, Minnie Driver. First, look at the above picture. Her "Fingers-Forward Arms Akimbo" projects a confident, assertive, in control persona (Thumbs-Forward Arms Akimbo means something completely different - stay tuned for future posts). It can also mean "I'm ready to proceed" in some contexts. Fingers-Forward Arms Akimbo can, without question, increase your confidence if it or your comfort-level happens to be low. A temporary biochemical shift in the level of certain hormones has even been documented with this gesture, which helps to reduce stress and increase confidence. Try it on for size - in front of your subordinates and some of your peers - but very sparingly in the company of your boss.

Although in the above photo, Minnie doesn't have a sincere, felt smile - it is a very good social smile. Her head is turned and tilted to the side (not forward) and she is looking directly at the person she's smiling at - all signs of high to very high confidence and sincerity.

A key component to Ms. Driver's confidence is her stance - although you can't see her feet here, you know about where they are placed.  If you want to project confidence and self assurance like Minnie, your feet should be shoulder width or slightly more apart.

In contrast, look at the photo below. Minnie does not send forth oodles of strength or confidence. With her arms at her side, this is still a fairly confident position for them, and indeed too few leaders and public figures strike this arm position - but it does not have the assertiveness that the Fingers-Forward Arms Akimbo does. 

Ms. Driver's smile, although it is still a "Social Smile" is a less confident one. She's not showing any teeth and her head is tilted downward - almost as if she's maybe embarrassed or feeling inferior. She's facing straight ahead and  her neck and shoulders are tense.

One very noticeable contrast between these two photos is that of Minnie's feet. Once again, although we cannot see them directly, it is obvious where her feet are in the bottom photo, they're close together. She reminds us of an enlisted man and not that of an officer. Never stand with your feet together if you want to project confidence and authority. Never. These two photos were taken minutes, maybe seconds apart - but they might as well be two different people in two different worlds.