Friday, September 30, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 234: Their Lips Tell the Story

Terry Francona, the very recent former Boston Red Sox Manager (left) and Executive Vice President & General Manager, Theo Epstein (right) are pictured here during a recent game. Their lips, while not the only nonverbal signals here, let us read their emotions. Francona's Lips are pursed, mild to moderately, which is a signal of disagreement (Navarro) in the context of confidence (Brown). It's a strong indication that he has an idea/alternative which he believes is superior to what is being said/displayed. When you see lip pursing you very often WON'T hear the person voice their disagreement, so be prepared for stealth, lest you find out their intentions too late.

Theo Epstein is displaying an example of an "Inward Lip Roll" (albeit out-of-focus here). He is feeling anxiety with a component of anger. When you see this sign, it's an indication that their fuse is growing shorter. You may very well want to temporarily steer clear. It is very instructive to think of this Body Language Beckon as the psyche calling on its inner reserves - in an effort not lose patience (Brown).


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 424: Beware the Mona Lisa Smile

These four beautiful and talented actresses - Emma Watson, Mandy Moore, Penelope Cruz and Kristen Stewart (from top to bottom) are all included in this post because they are exemplifying Hollywood's version of a "Mona Lisa's Smile" (not the movie, da Vinci's painting). Most people don't realize that Leonardo's masterpiece shows a woman (classically described as Lisa del Giocondo) with a SUBTLE expression of contempt. So when actresses (or actors) try to emulate WHAT THEY BELIEVE Mona Lisa's expression is, they concentrate on their mouths. But don't let their beauty fool you - for if your girlfriend (or boyfriend, husband, wife, etc.) is ever wearing these smiles - she/he won't be sincere.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 401:
Male Dominance Display - Faux pas

Most men, including heads of state, are completely unaware of just how much most women detest the "wide open crotch" display. It has two primary interpretations which are sometimes related. Here, former U.S. President George W. Bush is sitting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. This example of a seated crotch display is a strong sign of Male dominance.

The second meaning of this signal can be overtly sexual, meaning its user is physically attracted to someone in the immediate vicinity. This is obviously not the context in which Mr. Bush is using it here, nor is this what I want to imply. In many business settings however, men are complete oblivious that this behavior places them at a significant disadvantage when doing business with the fairer sex. The opposite extreme is not a smart one either - for a man to sit with his feet and knees close together - as this sends signals of low confidence and submissiveness.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 591: A Classic Tell -
Tongue, Eyes, Brow and Forehead

David Moyes is the current Manager of Football Club Everton in Liverpool. This particular facial expression (note tongue, eyes, brow and forehead) is highly characteristic with intense focused effort - often but not always a physical effort - and concentration. As a Manager, Mr. Moyes is on the sidelines in this photo and his concentration is directed at his team. Since he is a former player though, this display demonstrates the physical empathy he feels toward his players' efforts. It's fascinating when you see this displayed by a member of a jury.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 329: The Neck of Fear

This is the "Neck of Fear". It is very often accompanied by the "Mouth of Fear" of which there are some variations. The above image displays a good example (albeit in lower resolution) of a moderate and closed-mouth fear expression. More pronounced examples of fear will show the mouth opened with some or most of the bottom teeth displayed. The neck display is caused by the contraction of the "Platysma" muscle which is a very thin muscle, just beneath the skin of the neck - which runs between the jaw bone (mandible) and the collar bones (clavicles). Occasionally you will see this neck display with very little changes in the mouth - and thus it is a fantastic tell of fear and apprehensive-fear.


Negotiation Secret # 355: Asymmetry and Insincerity

George Clooney is, in most people's opinion, a pretty good actor - and this is obviously a posed photograph. But what's not so obvious, is whether he was aware of his exact facial expression at the moment this image was taken. His smile is asymmetrical - both in the eyes and in the mouth. One should always be suspicious of any facial expression where it is more pronounced on one side. It is a solid signal of insincerity. While it certainly doesn't mean the person's entire character is necessarily insincere - it does mean in that moment they were having to "force" facial expressions that weren't congruent with their emotions.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 351:
Some Subtle and not-so-subtle signs of
anxiety, discomfort, anger, fear, etc.

In this Video excerpt from the Cannes Film Festival from the Spring of 2011, the director Lars Von Trier makes an incredible ass of himself in some bizarre attempt at publicity. In it, he says among other things that he himself is a Nazi and says he understands Hitler. I include this video because the woman sitting to Trier's left is Kirsten Dunst, who later won the Best Actress Award for her role in his movie "Melancholia" at Cannes. Throughout this 2 minute 16 second video, Dunst exhibits many body language and facial signals of anxiety, fear, decision making, anger, attempts at controlling her own temper (at what he is doing to her, their colleagues, etc.) embarrassment, and several other emotions. It is an excellent example of how difficult our emotions and subsequently expressed body language is to control, even if you make your living acting. If you know what to look for, very few people can fool you. There are over 50 significant signs in this video. How many can you spot?


Friday, September 23, 2011

Nonverbal Communication Secret # 269:
I Just Remembered + Surprise, Milla Jovovich

Milla Jovovich is expressing an "I just remembered" gesture along with fairly classic surprise here (Surprise is the most evanescent of all the emotions. It is extremely common for surprise to rapidly transition to fear, anger, sadness, embarrassment and others. Her eyes were probably opened wider a second before this photo was taken.). These hand positions (tips of fingers touching the temple area) are also a sign you will see when people are trying to remember or in mentally concentrating - although, unlike Milla's face, their facial expression will be more consistent with deep thought and be absent of the surprise component.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Romance and Dating Secret # 217:
Who Wears the Pants in France?

Who wears the pants in France? Carla not Nicolas! She's the real alpha, even though he's the leader of the French people - Nicolas Sarkozy is the beta in this marriage. How can we tell? Her hand is in front and covering his as they walk hand-in-hand at this ceremony. This is a very reliable dominance display.

See also:

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 531:  Sarkozy's Mouth Tells Us What He's Feeling


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 299: At Arm's Length

This photo was taken in 2009 at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A bit of background here: Silvio Berlusconi (on Left) is the Italian Prime Minister who has a reputation as a womanizer. Just prior to this moment at the G20 ceremonies, Mrs. Obama hugged and kissed the Brown's (then Prime Minister of The U.K. and his wife), the Medvedev's (Russian President and his Missus) the Sarkozy's (France's first couple) and Angela Merkel (Germany's Chancellor). Not only does Michelle Obama not hug or kiss Berlusconi, but in here lukewarm handshake, she extends her arm to it's full length - rather than with bent elbow ( about 100 - 120 degrees would have been much better and is a good norm for business in most countries) and a closer torso/whole body and thus a more sincere greeting. Silvio is obviously displeased and the President, with expected emotional dissonance, is caught in the middle.

There are many often overlooked components to a successful handshake and this is only one. Michelle (probably?) knew the message she was sending here, and she was very deliberate about it. But on the World's stage it is easy for us to see this frozen image and dissect it in retrospect. In real-time however - in our own spheres of business, law, medicine, sales and diplomacy of a slightly less grand scale - simple mistakes like this - result in distancing (and lost opportunity) of much more than that of a greeting. This is particularly important in conducting business with those from a city, country or culture where this (and other maneuvers) would be viewed as very cold and aloof (as it is certainly seen from an Italian and Southern European point-of-view). Perhaps the first lady thought she was sending a more subtle message? I think this is a fair bet.

We are fundamentally emotional beings wearing thinly veiled intellectual and logical costumes. Never discount or minimize the emotional components - for they are the true drivers for everything else. The opportunity to touch another human being is so incredibly important. We are very foolish to squander it.


Body Language Secret # 444:
Why (most) Women are Better than Men
with Nonverbal Communication

I often get asked what makes some better than others at body language. There are many qualities which influence this skill set. One particularly interesting factor is gender. In general - women are better than men when it comes to both the interpreting nonverbal communication and the projection of proper body language in context. 

There are several reasons for this, and while we may not be able to qualify or quantify them all, one measurable factor is related to a tissue in our brains called the "Corpus Callosum". This special group of nerve cells is labeled with the number "2" (light blue) in the artificially colored MRI shown above. While a subject of some controversy, many studies show the corpus callosum in women is, on average, 10% more voluminous and contains 30% more neurons when compared to the average man. Thus the right and left hemispheres of the brain can communicate back and forth more efficiently in women. Therefore most (but not all) women can process what is seen and spoken in real-time and then determine if these are in agreement much more accurately and quicker than most men. While other gender-brain differences may play a role here, this ability to rapidly multitask, is particularly valuable when sorting out many visual and verbal signals and responding to them in real-time. 

Not surprisingly, women are especially superior to men when it comes to lie detection - although one specific event can evaporate this skill very rapidly. What brings this sea change?


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 171: A Subtle Sign of Sadness

When a right-handed person looks down and to their right, there is a very high correlation (although not 100 percent) with the emotion of sadness. The more time you spend around any given person in varying emotional states - so that you may "norm" them for this (and other) particular behavior(s) - the greater your accuracy. With left-handed people this will often (but not always) be mirrored to their Left Lower Quadrant - however, in general, the accuracy is less in left-handers. With some right-handed people, I've seen this to be in excess of 99+ % accurate, although with others it will be less so. Always look for other subtle signs of sadness as well. If three or more signs are present and congruent - their words may be positive, but their heart will be sad. Take heed.


Leadership Body Language Secret # 191:
How to Lose Votes and Elections

Here former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is seen next to Congresswoman (R-MN) Michele Bachman at the Iowa Republican Debates last month. Note his hand on her mid-back. This is a similar gesture to what is often seen between a parent and a child - going through doorways, across parking lots, etc. - in situations where some kind of protection or leadership is expected, etc. - but unlike the parent-child relationship, the emotions which drive this behavior are certainly not nurturing. Mitt Romney normally has pretty good body language sense & skill when compared to political office holders or candidates of any party or country .... but here he strikes out big time. This is seen as a patronizing and condescending signal to anyone who is watching who may be considering Romney, particularly if the voter is a woman. While it can be used sparingly once office is gained, to use it on stage with another candidate, especially by a man to a woman, in the setting of a debate - will lose you points every time.

CEO's, physicians, attorneys, managers and even sales people can be seen using this "False-Support Dominance Display" - to their significant detriment. It is always done by the higher ranking person to those in a more junior position (at least, from the point-of-view of the giver) or by those who are trying to engender a premature and thus false sense of familiarity.

It's as if the senior person feels the physical need to remind the subordinate - or them self - who's really in charge. It can be thought of as a variation on the Manipulator-Adaptor-Pacifier (MAP) - which, rather than performed on their own body part(s) - another is used as a surrogate; and while it may pacify the giver, it causes the receiver significant anxiety. In the setting of a televised debate, the audience "feels" this hand touch their backs'. Anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of this gesture knows the awkwardness that this generates. For those of you in power, whether you're the President, Prime Minister or a lower level manager, be very aware that this only serves to alienate those in whom you're trying to engender loyalty.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Romance and Dating Secret # 231:
A Classic Female Sexual Display

In this photo, the very beautiful and talented Eva Longoria (Tony Parker - what's wrong with you?!) gives us a great example of a classic female sexual display. When a woman preens her hair with her armpit exposed, this is a signal that she is sexually attracted to someone in the immediate vicinity. True preening of any type, is a signal of respect or attraction - however female hair preening with the elbow/arm extended laterally and her armpit exposed - this is a strong (though largely subconscious or edge-of-consciousness gesture) biological signal of female sexuality. Such arm position puts the breasts on display in a prominent fashion while simultaneously exhibiting overall health and confidence. The exposed armpits also allow releasing of pheromones and/or pheromone-like substances. These chemical messengers stimulate potential lovers' olfactory systems to powerfully and subliminally attract them. Be careful not to confuse any "hair touching" in an over-generalized fashion - for there are, to the untrained eye, somewhat similar gestures with essentially opposite meanings.


Negotiation Secret # 280: Contradictory Signals

This image of United Kingdom's Prime Minister, David Cameron is a great example of contradictory body language signals. Mr. Cameron's central forehead is contracted. This is extremely common when there is physical or emotional pain-distress being felt, either directly experienced or via empathy.  It is the primary and most important emotional "tell" displayed here. The Prime Minister's eyebrows are also consistent with his forehead expression. However, note the obvious "thumbs-up" gesture as well as his mild-to-moderate attempt at a social smile (the lower teeth exposure here is a sure sign of an insincere and forced smile) - both of these are in direct disagreement with his primary emotion of pain-distress. Whenever the central forehead is contracted - and this is accompanied by positive signals elsewhere in the body or face - the alarms should sound. There always is an important reason for this combination.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Body Language Secret # 105: Parental Affection and Love

Although a "hug" does not require closed eyes, doing so is a strong sign of affection and love. It's as if your emotional brain is trying to "drink in" the entire moment. Physiologically, our visual systems take up about 40% of the mass - and blood supply - of our brains. The visual sense also makes up 90% of our sensory input. It tends to often overpower our senses of smell, touch, taste and hearing - as well as our cognition and emotions.  When we close our eyes, this allows a bit more blood (and thus more oxygen) to be directed to other portions - including the emotional components - of our brains. This phenomenon is biological. While certainly not the only warning sign to watch for -  parents who consistently lack eye closure during the hugging their children - also tend to lack affection and love for these same children.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 151:
Openly and Honestly Condsidering Alternatives

You don't need to see Dale Junior's eyes to know he is considering alternatives here. When you see this particular mouth configuration, you can be sure that the person is openly and honestly considering between alternatives. If you watch people perusing their menus in any restaurant, while not the only facial sign of consideration (There are others which signal more subterfuge and clandestine considerations), this is a common one you'll see. In personal life, as well as in the business, legal, political worlds, it is no different. It is a valuable adjunct in the assessment of sincerity too. It's amazing how many times this valuable "tell" is ignored. Have you missed this signal today in your clients, your boss, your spouse?


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 322: Megan Fox's Lips

Here Megan Fox demonstrates a great example of an "Inward Lip Roll". This is a very common facial expression and often missed and discounted. It's a valuable tell and very indicative of increased anxiety. It often has a significant component of anger and an indication that the "temper fuse" is growing short and very possibly a verbal display or a more overt physical sign of anger will soon be heard/seen. A helpful way to think of the inward lip roll - is it's a signal that a person is trying to summon up more patience and/or simultaneously trying to calm themselves. The lips are an extremely sensitive tissue and touching one or both with the hand, fingers, tongue, teeth or manipulation with the other lip is an example of a Manipulator/Adaptor/Pacifier (MAP).


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 312: Mona Lisa isn’t Smiling

If you were (are) an attorney, what would you think about the Judge’s or Jury’s emotional state if their face looked the same as Mona Lisa’s? Well it’s not a Sincere Smile, so take heed. We don’t look directly at people we don’t like, don’t respect or don’t trust – so while the eyes may be looking at the person of interest the head will not rotate fully – just like Mona Lisa’s. This is a very common display at press conferences, depositions, in court (by all parties), by law enforcement, by child protective service officers, by TSA agents – and of course with spouses, bosses, etc.

Any time you see an asymmetric smile (and almost any other asymmetric expression), as Ms. Mona is giving us, it is forced and insincere at best – and yet we see much more in Leonardo’s masterpiece.

It is important to note that just because a person is insincere in a given moment, does not necessarily mean that his/her entire personality is so – although chronic insincerity is certainly something for which you should be on alert – for it is much more common than most people are aware. 

The other very common emotion where this asymmetric (and here subtle) looking “smile” is seen is contempt. This is The Mona Lisa’s emotional expression  – subtle contempt. With more moderate and extreme examples one side of the mouth will take on a “snarling” posture. This appearance is often short lived, sometimes extremely so – such as in a micro-expression (less than 0.5 seconds and as little as 0.04 seconds).

Mona Lisa’s left nostril is also slightly dilated, which is also consistent with the emotional display of contempt. Here the example is fairly mild, though. Contempt nearly always has a component of tightening of the mid-face, and indeed this may be the most prevalent feature. When you think mid-face - think nose, cheek, lower lids, the upper lip and “mustache area”.  Most people relatively ignore this region when learning body language.

Finally there’s the eyelids. Mona Lisa’s eyes are slightly closed. Slightly closed lids are seen in contempt, anger and disgust. But they also can be seen with a sincere smile. Believe it or not there are different ways in which this slight or moderate eyelid closure can take place. Because this is a work of art - and not a photograph there are imperfections here – and thus her lids are not the best examples of what to look for in any of these emotions. But they are partially closed, again consistent with the emotion of contempt. So the next time you see the Mona Lisa smile in “real life”, think contempt.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Body Language Not So Secret # 302: An Injustice to Martin

Certainly, I am not the first to write about this, but perhaps I am the first Body Language expert to do so. We all should join in unison for the call for a re-do. The Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial recently unveiled on the National Mall in Washington D.C. has many controversies surrounding it. The inaccuracy of his quote, the origin of the granite, the nationality of the and previous work of the sculptor are all very valid and I will not belabor their details here, but I would of course, like to discuss Martin's body and facial language as portrayed in his statue. 

Lincoln's, Jefferson's, FDR's, etc. nor any other of our nations leaders sculpted in stone or metal in Washington D.C., on Mt. Rushmore or elsewhere are portrayed with such a negative body language as Reverend King's was recently carved. Any child will tell you that his facial expression as portrayed here is negative. It does in fact display mild anger. Why? His crossed-arms are consistent with closed-mindedness and defensiveness. Why? These are not opinions - but reflective of factual human behavior. Martin Luther King Jr. embodied none of these negative emotions.

The presence or absence of a wedding ring is significant too. Indeed, it is a very strong symbol. It's difficult to find a picture of Dr. King without his. He was wearing it while on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 - why not now, forever in stone?

That this particular statue-memorial design was approved, one so poorly representative of such a great man - reflects an incredible set of oversights and gross incompetence. I love the man and what his memory and work stands for, but this is a profoundly inadequate attempt at memorializing him. Re-do!