Saturday, October 16, 2010

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.