Thursday, October 20, 2011

Body Language Negotiation Secret # 390:
True Surprise or False Surprise?

In this brief video clip of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (forgive the poor sound quality) getting the "news" on her Blackberry that Moamar Gadhafi has been captured (now verified that he has been killed), she is not in fact surprised - although her words ("Wow"...etc.) suggest this emotion. Despite a person blocking some of our view of her initial reaction we get a pretty good visual. Had she been truly surprised, Hillary's eyes would have opened widely for a second or two. Another sign of sincere surprise (also absent here) is the mouth/jaw opens widely and the lips will form a round or oval shape. True surprise is the briefest of all emotions and is very often immediately followed by another emotion - most commonly - laughter/joy, anger, embarrassment, or fear. Mrs. Clinton has a pretty good poker face, but the fact that her surprise wasn't sincere and there was not another emotion immediately following this feigned surprise - suggests strongly that this was not her initial information today regarding the former dictator (no big news here). There is a brief smile seen (also feigned), but it is several seconds later.

Very intriguingly, her double hand adjustment of the front portion of her jacket in this context is a nonverbal signal akin to a "period and exclamation point" or "take that Moamar!"