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.