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.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Body Language & Romance: Secret # 19

Indian actress Priyanka Chopra sits in a configuration known as "Parallel Legs". It is the position deemed most attractive by the overwhelming majority of men (6 out of 7) for women who are sitting. This pose is often taught in modeling classes. The contour formed when the legs press against each other - fosters an increased tone and more youthful appearance. 


Sincerity Secret # 17: What's Beneath that Beautiful Smile?

This is Jacqueline Hennessey, the actor, journalist and singer. She is watching her twin sister Jill Hennessey, also an actor, just before an outdoor performance. The smile she's showing us is not a true, felt smile - although it is a very good social smile. Jacqueline is an actor, so she gets a lot of practice - but this is a great example of how, if you know what to look for - the truth always leaks out. In a sincere smile, the bottom teeth are not visible - and yet Ms. Hennessey's are. Notice how the corners of her mouth are stretched out to the side, rather than upwards. If you just look at her eyes, she'll fool you - again, she's an actress. Most people don't have nearly this good of a "social smile". She's "smiling" with her eyes very well, but something is worrying her emotional brain.

I want to call your attention to how Ms. Hennessey is scratching her neck. This is an example of a pacifying behavior which fits into the general category of an "adaptor" aka a "manipulator". The neck is one of the most sensitive areas of the body. When manipulators increase, it is a sure sign that indicates an increase in anxiety or discomfort. The Vagus nerves run through the neck on their way to the heart, lungs and other organs. Scratching or rubbing one's neck will stimulate the Vagus nerves, slow down the heart (among other things) and thus help to calm a person down. Jacqueline's smile is a nervous smile, albeit a very good one - she see's something which is making her anxious or uncomfortable. If you see people rubbing or scratching their neck, your antennae should immediately go on the alert and try and figure out the source of possible discomfort.


Flirting and Romance Secret # 51:
Dominance Display in a Couple:
Maria Sharapova & Sasha Vujačić

Tennis great Maria Sharapova and her Fiancé Sasha Vujačić of the Los Angeles Lakers (update - since July 2011 of the Anadolu Efes in Turkey), walk hand in hand for a Saturday Stroll. Although you can't quite see Maria's engagement ring in this photo, what you can see is that his hand is in front of hers. This is a dominance display. It is fairly uncommon to see the opposite - the woman with her hand in front. Many other body language signals and gestures display dominance - some in the world of  romance - and others in the world of business. Overlook them at your peril.

Congrats Maria and Sasha!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sincerity Secret # 14: The False Surprise Smile

Cher Lloyd, on her way to The X Factor's Saturday night live show, waves to some fans and flashes this "False Surprise Smile". Celebrities, Politicians and others in the public eye have a difficult time smiling all the time - and this particular false smile is one of their favorites. The jaw is dropped and the mouth is opened wide - similar to the mouth of surprise. But with true surprise the teeth are rarely exposed. Also, there is no pulling up at the corners of the mouth in surprise as there is when an attempt at a smile is made.

Ms. Lloyd's eyes are opened wider than normal here - again, similar to, but not identical to surprise. The white portions of the eye (sclera) above and below the iris (color part of the eyes) tend not to be exposed with the False-Surprise smile - while the eyes of true surprise are characteristically "white and wide".

Surprise is also the briefest of all emotions. Sincere surprise only lasts for a second or two. In addition, true surprise is very often rapidly followed by fear, laughter, anger or embarrassment. If you witness what you think is surprise - but it keeps on going and going - there is at least an element of exaggeration and drama throw in and perhaps the entire display has been faked.


Negotiation Secret # 11 & 12: Netanyahu's Double-Dominance

Benjamin Netanyahu (L) Prime Minister of Israel exhibits a great example of a double-dominant style hand shake over Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R).  The first of these dominant advantages is that he's on the left from the audience's, the camera's and our point-of-view. This allows him to have his hand closer to the audience - being much more visible, and thus more dominant. The astute politician, CEO, etc. will always figure out a way to be on the left side side of the stage before the events begins. Netanyahu is simply better at playing chess.

In addition, Mr. Netanyahu has turned his hand so that it is on top. This is another dominant maneuver  and is a common move for alpha males. There are ways to counter this move, but Mr. Abbas, if he knew these, would have difficulty pulling them off -  because he's in the sitting position, he's shorter than Mr. Netanyahu (thus, so are his arms), and because he's reaching across Mrs. Clinton chest. Had I been coaching him, among other things, I would advised him to have shaken hands before sitting down. He has put himself in a position of weakness that could have been prevented. When you play chess, don't let the other guy take your queen before the match even starts - but you should endeavor to take his.


Sincerity Secret # 20: Fiero Feels Good, Caroline Wozniacki &
Our Mirror Neurons

This is Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark. Caroline is current ranked number one in the World by the WTA. Here she is experiencing Fiero after victory.  Fiero is a specific and intense emotion of accomplishment after overcoming a great obstacle. It is certainly not limited to athletic events, but these are commonly photographed. It can also result from overcoming emotional, financial, family, or business obstacles. There is no equivalent word for this in English. Fiero is a term coined by Italian psychologist Isabella Poggi.

The facial expressions and body posture of fiero are interestingly similar to those of extreme pain. Note Caroline's eyes are closed tightly, and her mouth is open wide. If the picture were wider in angle - you would see her fists clenched and if it had audio, you would hear the tennis star screaming. Yet when we see this picture, even though at this writing, her winning this match is about three week old, we not only easily make the distinction that she is experiencing extreme fiero - but we feel it too. 

The fact that we truly feel a bit of  Ms. Wozniacki's fiero, or that of any winning athlete, or we cry during a sad movie, or feel pain when we witness another being injured - are all indirect evidence for the existence of our "Mirror Neurons".

Mirror neurons are a new class of neurons first discovered in monkeys about 20 years ago and have since been found in birds, dogs and humans.  Many experts feel that defects in these neurons play a key role in the development of autism, sociopathic and psychopathic behavior, and perhaps such defects are at the root of much criminal behavior. The same experts feel that healthy mirror neurons also enable us to learn. A better name for mirror neurons may be "empathy neurons".


Friday, October 22, 2010

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2: Body Language of Blake Lively and Penn Badgley Strongly Suggests an Impending Break-up in Near Future (PHOTOS)

Blake Lively and her boyfriend, Penn Badgley are shown hugging in this photo on the set of the TV show "Gossip Girl". But unless this is part of the script (and I don't think it is), this "Hug" is considerably non-affectionate and is a strong signal of an impending break-up of this actor couple. Let's start at the ground and work up. Notice their feet are not even close to pointing at each other. This is a very strong indicator of non-affection, especially during a hug. We point our feet towards those we love, like, are attracted to, or have affection for (even if not in an embrace) - or those we believe are important and deserve our respect. In the context of a married or dating couple, this is a flashing neon sign of non-affection and impending break-up. You heard it here first.

The couple's hips are far apart and also not pointed at each other (angled apart) - Blake's even more significantly. This is how you hug your cousin or your co-worker (see post on Cameron Diaz's and Tom Cruise's hug), not your significant other. Another detail here, is that Ms. Lively is bending more at the waist, while Mr. Badgley's waist is not bent at all. This particular waist finding is our emotional brain's attempt at keeping our hips further apart and our hugs less intimate, less affectionate and less committed. Blake is just not into it. To all men who get a hug like this on a "first date" - you won't get a second one.

Ms. Lively has a purse in her right arm, and she is hugging with only one arm. Blake's emotional brain is using her forearm to act as a barrier against affection. The purse is an additional barrier. These are two strong additional warning signs. Penn is hugging primarily with his left arm - his right arm is only slightly engaged.

Finally, look at their eyes, while Mr. Badgley's eyes remain closed, Ms. Lively's eyes open first (see photo below). We tend to close our eyes and keep them closed longer when the affection, the commitment and the love is deeper. Our emotional brain is focusing on the affection of the moment and trying to drink it all in. If one person never closes their eyes, or opens them quickly - there is less emotional commitment.

Using actors as examples to teach and coach body language is particularly illustrative, because it demonstrates so poignantly that although they are professionals and get paid millions to suspend our disbelief, faking emotion is extremely difficult to do. Truth always leaks, and often gushes out. It surprises me that more actors don't get body language coaching. It not only will help them become better actors, but as it does for everyone else - it gives profound understanding of all human emotion.

Update: Five days after this article-analysis was posted, Blake Lively and Penn Badgley split-up!


Negotiation Secret # 33: False Mastication

This is Iker Casillas (L) and Sergio Ramos (R). They are players on Spain's national soccer team.  Here they are pictured as they arrive for the recent Asturias Awards Ceremony. I want to call your attention to Iker - specifically, his mouth. Mr. Casillas is giving us a great example of what is known as "False Mastication" or false chewing. Many of us do this when we're nervous - a gentle chewing of the inside of the cheek with the teeth. This is type of self-soothing gesture that fits under the more general category of  "manipulators" or "adaptors".  These adaptors will significantly increase during times of stress and anxiety.  

It is very interesting to note that in the context of a conversation however, should another display false mastication, it significantly increases the odds that this secondary to deception-related anxiety. Since Iker is not speaking and he's simply experiencing anxiety related to being in front of a crowd, the false mastication seen here is simple anxiety and not secondary to deception.

Should you notice this during a negotiation or business venture, be vary wary of what was just said - for it is evidence of anxiety, and perhaps deception.


Negotiation Secret # 9 - Lip Pursing Redux

A few days ago, I posted an example of Lip Pursing which showed U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi with an fairly extreme example of this facial expression. Here's an example from the other side of the political fence. Above, Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State (along with other subtle emotional displays) exemplifies a much more subtle version of pursed lips. Examples such as this are difficult to spot and are often more fleeting.  Lip pursing is a sign of disagreement in the context of confidence. Thus it also is significant in that the person who wears this expression is intent on taking action so that their plan, at least in some significant part, is brought to fruition. This is an extremely valuable negotiation tell. Once you hone your Body Language observational skills - you'll be surprised at how often you see this expression.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 21: Smiling over Disgust

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is an easy target. This is a common expression for him. He is feeling disgust (mild to moderate) towards someone or something and he's trying to eek out a smile, but his smile is falling far short. Some classic components of disgust seen here are dilated nostrils and the tightening around his mouth - particularly in the "mustache area", prominent nasal-labial folds, and a protruding lower lip, and subtle wrinkling on the bridge of his nose. As the disgust intensifies, these characteristics grow more prominent, particularly findings in and around the nose.

Notice also, Hugo's raised right eyebrow - this is a signal of doubt as is often referred to as the "Skeptics Eyebrow". Mr. Chavez doubts something he sees and he is trying to look amused by smiling, while his true emotions of disgust and skepticism leak through.

Be very aware of the subtle, the camouflaged and the ruse.  Those who intend to deceive, harm and take advantage of others rarely come dressed in a cloak and twisting their mustaches. When negative emotions are layered with positive emotions, most people miss the negative ones. Every day is a masquerade. 


Negotiation Secret # 19: Apprehensiveness

Here the beautiful and talented Canadian actor Allie MacDonald shows us a facial expression of apprehensiveness. Although her eyes are looking at the person to whom she is speaking, her head is turned about 45 degrees to her left. There is a strong tendency for people to turn both their head and eyes towards those they like, believe and trust. However, when there is an element of disfavor, disbelief or mistrust, our heads will turn away. This is a classic facial expression of apprehension. May you never see it in a business meeting or from across your dinner table.


Sincerity Secret # 21: Honest Anxiety

Vladimir Zhirinovsky is seen here addressing an audience. Although we don't know the reason, Mr. Zhirinovsky is experiencing some strong emotions that are resulting in a display of anxiety. If you look carefully, you will see that he is looking down and to his right. Although not 100% definitive, when people are looking in this direction, there is a high correlation with a concurrent mental processing of a moderate-to-high emotional issue. Many experts feel this has an accuracy in excess of 90%.

Vladimir's left hand is also scratching the top of his head. This particular "self-touching" is an example of a "manipulator" also known as an "adaptor" - and they have a high correlation with expressing anxiety. It is also interesting to note, that although we cannot say why he is experiencing anxiety, this particular "top of head location" is a fairly strong indicator of a honesty. Said another way - Mr. Zhirinovsky is probably feeling the anxiety associated with an honest dilemma or problem which must be faced.

His head is also tilted down and forward - also consistent with a negative emotional tone. These three findings are supportive of each other and collectively constitute a "gesture cluster".


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Negotiation Body Languge Secrets: # 19, 35 & 42

Quiz time! Is this man's forehead consistent with sincerity or insincerity? What would make it appear more sincere? Less sincere? Does the appearance of his forehead match his mouth if we are looking for sincerity?  Does his forehead match his eyes? What about his right hand? What does it's placement tell us? What is the level of sincerity it conveys? Where could it be better placed? Look at his mouth - what should jump out you immediately is its asymmetry. What does this lack of symmetry demonstrate? With what specific emotion(s) is it correlated? What is the "sincerity quotient" his mouth conveys?


Negotiation Secret # 28: Keeping Your Hands Visible

We tend not to trust people if we can't see their hands. It is a cardinal rule of rapport building to always keep your hands visible. It is an indication that people don't want to communicate if their hands are (or become) "hidden" from view. Of course we all know where their hands really are, but this is a subconscious consequence of the emotional brain demonstrating anxiety, subtly retreating and perhaps trying to "hide" something. This is especially true when the stakes are high during negotiations, job interviews, business meetings, speeches, debates, in a court of law, etc. If you're interviewing a new employee and upon asking them a question, their hands disappear beneath the table - you would be well advised to delve deeper into the  particular issue being discussed at that moment. In this setting, there would also be a strong tendency for this same nervous interviewee to sit back in their chair - another sign of disengagement and a desire to minimize conversation.

Which side of the table pictured above has increased anxiety? If I were a member of the other side, I'd want to ask myself "Why?". Don't be the Zebra who dismisses some intriguing spots - and ended up in the leopards stomach.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 36: Subtle Disapproval

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton adjusts her make-up next to European High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton (L) before a news conference at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels October 14, 2010. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir (BELGIUM - Tags: POLITICS)Content © 2010 Reuters All rights reserved.
This is an interesting photo because it shows a subtle display of emotion.  As U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, touches up her make-up, Catherine Ashton (European High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) shows her disapproval. She believes Mrs. Clinton should be doing such things in private. Notice how her body is leaning slightly away from Mrs. Clinton. We towards things we like and away from things we don't like. While also wearing a slight frown, the mild downward tilt of her head/neck also betrays her critical emotion.


Sincerity Secret # 35: Billion Dollar Smile

Here we see the beautiful and talented Hilary Swank. She's one of only five actresses to ever get a Best Actress Oscar both times she's been nominated. This picture is very illustrative of the importance of "smiling your eyes". Hilary's eyes are partially closed - a trait always seen in sincere smiles. You can smile all you want to with your mouth, but if your eyes aren't involved - it's not a true, felt smile. Notice also, that although  her top teeth are nicely displayed, there are no bottom teeth in view. Look for the display of those bottom teeth as a sign of insincerity. This tip is worth its weight in gold. Here's another: To everyone I coach, I get them to practice this mantra: "Lead with your eyes, and your mouth will follow." It's sounds crazy, but it's true. If you practice this in a mirror - you'll end up laughing alone in your bathroom and you'll feel fantastic. Try it, you'll crack yourself up!


Negotiation Secret # 57: The Handgun Steeple

Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez is not known for his subtleties or his finesse. If we didn't already know this, we could predict it by what we see here. The gesture Mr. Chavez is using is sometimes called the "Handgun Steeple". It should never be used when seeking diplomacy or when seeking agreement among peers. It is universally interpreted as overbearing, intimidating and patronizing. It should be used very sparingly and only on those occasions when specifically and deliberately trying to intimidate another individual or group. It should always be avoided in negotiations. If I were coaching Hugo, among other things, I'd advise him not to use this again in the Kremlin. After all, Mr. Putin is a black belt and Mr. Chavez is short on friends.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 9: Nancy's Lip Purse

We don't know what was said - or who said it, but Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), doesn't agree with it.  Whenever you see this classic nonverbal pursed-lip signal, which Ms. Pelosi is displaying, you can be sure that its owner disagrees with what they hear or see. In addition, it's very likely that those who display the pursed lip have an alternative plan or proposal in-the-ready and are waiting for the best time to put it forth, if they've not already done so. 

In the real world, the lip purse is not always so classic in appearance. Stay tuned for future posts for more subtle examples. Whenever you see it displayed though, this should be a signal that the other person will be taking action in the direction of their plan. You can be very certain of this - even if their words say otherwise.  Those who display the lip purse are also demonstrating a fairly high level of confidence. Plenty of people disagree with us, but not everyone has the confidence, assertiveness and the resources to take action. So when you see this classic sign of disagreement and confidence - break out your diplomacy, your plan B or your resume.


Leadership Secret # 10:
High Confidence vs. Low Confidence Stance

This photo provides and excellent example contrast of projecting high confidence vs. low confidence. On the left is the former U.S. President Bill Clinton and on the right is current Attorney General of California, Jerry Brown.  Although with less than three weeks before the election, he currently leads Meg Whitman in the poles by six percentage points in California's Gubernatorial race, and he also held this same office twice in the past (from 1975 - 83, before California's term limits were set), Mr. Brown displays a posture of low confidence. It is a cardinal rule never to clasp your hands low and in front and in a public setting, yet so many politicians do it. This is known as a "fig leaf" position. It is a sign of low confidence and vulnerability. Moreover, rather than just a loose clasping of the hands, he is gripping three of his fingers quite firmly - signifying an even greater level of anxiety. This posture pulls ones shoulders forward and down - not the best way to look when you're trying to follow Arnold Schwarzenegger in office. Hunched shoulders simply do not demonstrate confidence - no way, no how. In addition, Jerry's mouth is foreshortened and down-turned - giving pensive and tentative signals. Jerry Brown looks tense and he shouldn't be.

Now look at Mr. Clinton. The former U.S. President hands are clasped BEHIND his back. If you're ever feeling intimidated or nervous, simply standing like this will increase your confidence.This posture, among others, temporarily increases testosterone (yes, even in women) and decreases cortisol (a stress-related hormone). Any politician will tell you Bill projects confidence better than almost anyone - and he sets the example for Mr. Brown here. Look at Mr. Clinton's mouth - although not smiling, it is thoughtful and pondering - certainly not lacking in confidence. 

As Maya Angelou once said, people don't remember so much what you said, but they always remember how you made them feel.


Negotiation Secret # 59: The Bottom 16

Most of those who see this photo have no problem seeing that Sam Rockwell is angry.  The most obvious signals of this emotion are his medial (inner) brows are lowered and are pulled together. The currugator muscle is also contracted giving those characteristic vertical lines just above the nose in the central lower forehead. Interestingly, this can also be a facial signal for moderate to intense concentration. So be careful to not mistake the thinker for the angered.

Looking for the less obvious, we find that Sam's eye lids are somewhat closed. This can also be a sign of subtle to severe anger. Here we see a subtle version of Clint Eastwood.

But the reason I chose to use this photo is because it contains a gem of a body language signal in another part of the face. Look at the mouth. You see a fine example of the display of lower teeth.  No upper teeth are visible. When only the lower teeth are displayed and those upper 16 are hidden - think anger! I don't mean to imply that the upper teeth must be hidden for anger to be present. There are certainly classic mouth displays of anger where both the upper and lower teeth are visible. But you should endeavor to learn all the nuance and variation of nonverbal communication. If Mr. Rockwell's eyes were relaxed, but his mouth was unchanged - this should still send an anger signal to your gray matter. Being aware of the subtle signs of emotion in others will put you a mile ahead of everyone else. Knowing what people are thinking and feeling is a very real kind of magic.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 60: Irish Eyes and Neck Massage equals.....

Michael O'Leary, the chief executive officer at Ryanair, is displaying a classic display of a high neck rub. Massaging one's neck is an attempt to pacify distress. These very specific types of gestures are known as "manipulators" or "adaptors". An increase in the amount of self-touching is a reliable sign of increased anxiety and stress.  Adaptors also tend to increase during deception, but they are certainly not the only sign to look for when you suspect a lie is being told.  Anxiety can certainly increase during honesty and sincerity.  Although the presence of manipulators is not sine qua non for deception, you should always be aware of the moment-to-moment trends in manipulators of others and in yourself.

The neck is a particularly sensitive area and self-touching in this area is generally significant of a greater amount of distress.  Men tend to massage their necks at these times more robustly and women more daintily.

Mr. O'Leary is demonstrating an extreme tight-lipped smile.  His lips are stretch so much that they have seemed to nearly disappear.  Notice also that his eyes are more widely opened that normal.  In this context, this is a sign of significant anger.  You can be sure that Mr. O'Leary is quite angry at this press conference where he announced that Ryanair would close its only French base at Marseilles Airport come January 2011, because of disagreement with French authorities. Note that I'm not saying that Michael lost his temper.  What I am saying is that he's feeling significantly angry.  It's very likely that his words are well chosen and diplomatic.  But if you were doing business with a person displaying these same signals, you would put yourself at an extreme advantage to be able to spot emotion and quantify it.

Mr. O'Leary is trying to pacify himself (subconsciously) by massaging his neck. We all do this. The Vagus Nerves (one on each side) pass through the neck on their way to organs in the chest and abdomen. Gentlly massage them in the right manner will actually slow heart and breathing rates.


Negotiation Secret # 61: The High Steeple

This is an example of a high "Steeple" gesture.  Often the fingers and thumb meet at a less obtuse angle than Mr. Kaspar Villiger, the Chairman of Swiss Bank, UBS is displaying.  It is a high confidence gesture. People of low confidence never display this signal.  It is also a high status gesture, so it is very unusual for the unemployed or for the lower half of the socioeconomic class to perform.  It is interesting to note that, in general, the higher the steeple is displayed, the higher the degree of confidence.  But gender also plays a role. Women who steeple, tend to steeple lower, while men tend to steeple higher. The steeple should be used with great caution though, for as much as it is a product of confidence (or perhaps over-confidence) - it can very often project arrogance, condescension and a patronizing attitude.  So what ever side of the negotiation you sit on, the steeple is an extremely telling sign. Approach with caution when you see it and use it only on the rare occasion.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 62, 63, 119 and 92:
Insincerity, Frustration, Incredulity and Impatience

Sergey is angry. Sergey is impatient.  Sergey is incredulous. Sergey's "smile" is insincere. Sergey is frustrated. This is Sergey Aslanyan.  He is President of JSC Sitronics. I truly wonder if Mr. Aslanyan knows he is projecting these emotions.  The most telling sign is his insincere smile.  Whenever you see the brows raised and eyes wide open, the smile is ALWAYS forced.  His "smile" is a tight lipped one - consistent with suppressed dissenting opinion while attempting to be polite and/or politically correct. The particular positions of his fingers and thumb on the left face and forehead is a classic frustration signal. When you see an insincere smile, you should always be thinking that there is an incredulous component of emotion present, especially when accompanied by frustration.


Negotiation Secret # 81: A Negative Emotional Cluster

How would you like to know what another is really thinking and feeling in a negotiation or meeting? The secret is not in their words, but displayed in nuances of their body and face.

France's Finance Minister Christine Lagarde demonstrates a negative emotional cluster in this photograph.  Her hands are clenched with her fingers interlaced, protecting her neck, and her upper arms are held very close to her body - also a protective posture. These all indicate a negative emotional tone with low confidence and anxiety. Her tight lipped "smile" - which is nearly horizontal but appears less so because of her downward head tilt -  has a tightness in the area immediately above her upper lip. This tightness is consistent with mild anger. Ms. Legarde's brows are slightly depressed and drawn together - also a sign of anger. There are also signs of mild disgust present.

We do not know what is being said, and even if we were present, we may not speak French, but we can be absolutely sure she doesn't like what she is hearing and she is feeling defensive and angry. I highly doubt that she wants anyone else to know she's experiencing these emotions. People are rarely aware of what emotions they are projecting in real-time.


Friday, October 15, 2010

My Debate Analysis on KXNT:
Sharron Angle vs. Harry Reid

Radio Commentary:  Listen to my interview on KNXT Newsradio 100.5 FM / 840 AM.  I was a guest on the Alan Stock Show just prior to the U.S. Senate Debate between Sharron Angle and Harry Reid. The debate was from 6:00 to 7:00 PM on Thursday, October 14th, 2010.  There was both pre and post Debate Analysis on what Body Language to watch for - and then afterwards, I spoke about the Candidates and their nonverbal signals.  To paraphrase Maya Angelou, Most people don't remember what a you say, but they'll always remember how you made them feel. This is something that most people aren't aware of - or too often forget.  One of these politicians knows this, while the other has forgotten it.


Sincerity Secret # 39: Tears of Joy

This is a witness to the rescue mission of the 33 miners recently liberated in Chile.  It reminds us of the importance of context when interpreting body language.  If you didn't know the miners were being saved (32 of the 33 were freed when this photo was taken) you wouldn't be able to tell if they were rescued or lost.  This woman  is crying tears of joy.  The "grief" muscles in the center of her forehead are contracted and she is covering her mouth.  People may also cover their mouth when surprised, witnessing something horrific, or witnessing something wonderful.  It is often displayed when profound empathy is being experienced.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 64:
10% of the Face is All You Need
Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head.....

All you see here of Mark Webber, a formula one driver from Australia, is a fraction of his face, but that's all you need to see. Mr. Webber is clearly displaying one of two similar emotions - disgust or contempt. We see three distinct signs of these emotions: a dilation of the nostril (only one is viable), a foreshortening and tightening of the "mustache" area, and a protrusion of the lower lip.  Disgust looks identical to contempt except for one key element - contempt is almost entirely unilateral while disgust is bilateral displayed. Since we only can  see part of  his left side and none of his right - we don't know which of these emotions Mark is experiencing.

Contempt is always directed at a person (even oneself), or group of people, while disgust may also be directed at the nonliving. Perhaps he is disgusted at the rain - or he is in contempt of another driver,  but while we can't know the cause, we can be sure he is feeling one of these two negative emotions at the moment of this photo.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 65: A Classic Sign of Anger-Anxiety

This picture of Washington Redskins Coach, Mike Shanahan shows an absolutely great example of an"Inward Lip-Roll". An Inward Lip-Roll is a classic sign of anger-associated anxiety. When you see this particular lip disappearing act, its maker is trying to control his or her temper. Their fuse has grown short and there is a significant chance that they're about to lose their temper.


Leadership Secret # 35: A Friendlier Way to Point

This is George Mitchell.  Currently he is U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East.  In the past he has been U.S. Senate Majority Leader and Chairman of the Walt Disney Corporation. He is seen here during talks in Washington D.C. between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbasprior.

Mr. Mitchell is seen here using what has been come to be known as the "Politician's Point".  Rather than pointing with the index finger, which is universally poorly received as negative, aggressive, patronizing, and angry, an experienced leader may "point" with this okay sign - aka the politicians point.  Those who use the Okay sign in this manner, are judged to be warm, understanding, intelligent and focused on sincere problem solving.  It's best to use it a bit more relaxed than Mr. Mitchell is showing us here.  In particular, be careful to avoid pinching  the pads of  thumb and index finger together, but rather keep only the tips of these digits touching forming a circular shape. It's interesting to observe that the faces of those gesturing with the latter variation of this "politician's point" (loose okay sign) will tend to have more relaxed smiles, while those using the "pinched" okay sign, will tend to have more tense faces.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 66: Bad Body Pointing - Redux

Promise yourself that you'll never pose for a handshake like these two well-meaning, but ill-informed World leaders are doing in this photo.  It is unnatural and insincere.  

When you shake another's hand, your body (face, shoulder, pelvis, and feet) should be parallel to their's. Here, the President of Finland, Tarja Halonen and the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon bodies are at 120 degrees (faces less so, but still mis-aligned) to each other.  When you shake another's hand you want to give them your full attention.  For a moment, it's important to make them feel as if they're the only one in the Universe.  When any part of your body  is pointed away from them, you are transmitting a signal of insincerity and disinterest.  This is one of many reasons why some people are charismatic and others are not. 

The other odd thing about this posed handshake is that their bodies are positioned too closely.  For all parts of the World, with the possible exception of some parts of Southern Europe, they are in each other's personal space and this will cause the other to feel invaded, very uncomfortable and sometimes even threatened or angry.

Ms. Halonen and Mr. Ki-moon are both very experienced leaders with good motives. I doubt they want to project anything but optimism, honesty, and good faith. But this is not what is happening. We all know this is a posed photograph and yet, knowing that, it still transmits feelings of insincerity and artificiality. Sincerity always trumps fake. Always.


Leadership Secret # 38: Four Levels of Confidence

This is a very real-world and illustrative photograph of four different levels of confidence displayed by four different ladies.  From left to right, the confidence levels (at the moment of the photo) are 3, 4, 2, and 1; with 1 being the most confident and 4 being the least.  It is very important to remember, that this only applies to the moment of the photograph and with a single photograph, it is not possible or wise to apply this to their overall personalities.

Hands are in the pockets is signal to others that you don't want to engage, that you don't really want to talk, and is ill-advised when you want to project confidence. There are two variations on the protective "fig-leaf" stance seen here by the two ladies on the left, the difference being a "prop" for added blocking effect.  Whenever a pillow, purse, book, glasses, brief case, etc. is held in front of the body, it is an additional coefficient of low confidence.  Angie Watson on the far right, with no blocking or protective signals, displays the highest confidence with her arms and hands at her side. It's also no surprise that of the four, she is also displaying the most sincere smile.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 67: Incredulous Cluster

Here, Aleksandar Djorovic displays a great example of an Incredulity Cluster.  In the field of body language, a cluster is two or more signals displayed at once or in a short period of time. The entire width and breadth of his forehead is raised while his head and eyes are pointed down.  He issues a strained false smile with mild disgust (Note Aleksandar's mid-face tightening and his raised lower lip).  He is also squinting. His scratching the top of his head is a great example of a manipulator aka adaptor which signifies discomfort and anxiety about what he just saw or heard.  These are seven signals - all of which support the emotional display of incredulity.

As you learn more about nonverbal communication, seek to observe clusters of signals - not just a single sign in isolation.  Clusters are the "sentences" of Body Language.


Negotiation Secret # 68: A Wolf in Leader's Clothing

This is Suriname's President Desi Bouterse pictured during a recent press conference. Leaders will sometimes  adopt this "Pseudo-Praying" gesture to appear holy, god-like or above reproach. Very few people do this deliberately. It is subconscious. Bouterse is a convicted cocaine smuggler and a former coup leader. Surprise! Beware the "leader" wearing costume and facade.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 70: Robert Redford and The Sting of Denial & Anger

Robert Redford feels The Sting of Frustration. The emotion of frustration has components of anger, disappointment, denial and conflict.  His fingers are brought to his forehead and his thumb to his cheek in this extremely classic physical metaphor for frustration and pain. The actor/director's lower teeth are barred and his jaw is protruding slightly consistent with mild anger. The head tilted downward is also indicative of  a negative emotional tone.

Mr. Redford's eyes are closed which in this setting is known as visual blocking. We close our eyes for an extended time (sometimes for just what seems like an extended blink and often a good bit longer) when we don't like what we see. It's as if we have a wish to erase an event or momentary denial for what we have just seen (or heard). Those who are strong visual-thinkers will also do this when imaging or recalling a negative event in their "mind's eye".

When you see this cluster, especially the characteristic hand gesture, the overwhelming emotional tone is frustration. Those who display this cluster often (and I don't mean to imply Mr. Redford does - we all do this on occasion) have a increased propensity for passive-aggressive behavior. It is also very instructive to think of this  gesture cluster as a time-compressed version of the first and second stages of grief (denial and anger).

Often people don't yell or verbally admonish others when they feel the emotion of frustration. Reality is often subtle until it's too late to effect positive change. Like any teacher, I give try to give good examples which act as models and maps for those who are learning. Always remember though, the map is not the territory, and the real world is full of grey-zones where issues are not so clear cut. Try your best to discern the details and nuance which most others gloss over, for it is in these times when you will most benefit, lest emotions build to extreme.


Negotiation Secret # 71: Mirror, Mirror

In this photograph, Mr. Norman Francis sits with Michelle Obama.  He is president of Xavier University and she, of course, is first lady of the United States.  Mr. Francis' face and body posture are a nearly perfect mirror of Ms. Obama's. We tend to strongly mirror those we admire.  It is also a fundamental rapport-building tool used by the perceptive to gain another's favor or friendship.

Care should be taken not to mirror others too exactly or too close in time, lest it backfire.  In addition, it would be wise to avoid mirroring in all subordinate-superior relationships - in some contexts it will be taken as an affront by the superior. 


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 121: Glasses in Mouth

When a person takes off his glasses in the middle of a conversation, press conference, cross-examination, etc.  it is a sign they are stalling for thinking-time.  In a negotiating or mediating type setting, this is most often seen at the end of the discussion when a decision has been asked for.  It is also one of examples of a pacifier, also known as a manipulator or adaptor.  Like all manipulators, it is a sign of increased discomfort or anxiety.

Although highly refined and very experienced in high pressure situations, we can be sure that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov feels anxiety and is stalling for time while he is formulating his answer.  Remember this the next time you are in a negotiation.