Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Negotiation Body Languge Secret # 361:
Conrad Murray's Fingers and Nostrils

Doctor Conrad Murray is pictured here at his hearing from earlier today. He received a sentenced of four years for involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson. This image was captured just prior to his sentencing. His interlaced and straightened fingers are strong indicators of anxiety - and more specifically that of frustration and insecurity. Of course, we know the context here - and the idea that Dr. Murray is feeling this way is not a surprise. While his face does not show dramatic signals of anxiety, if you look close you can see nostril flaring. What does this nonverbal indicate? What about the angle of his head/neck tilt? In your everyday life, how often do you miss these subtle but important nonverbal signals?


Negotiation Body Language Secret # 617:
Ginger White and Herman Cain

Herman Cain's latest accuser, Ms. Ginger White, displays signals of emotional pain, sadness and anxiety throughout the duration of this approximately 90 second video. Ms. White's central forehead is contracted the entire time with simultaneous elevation of her inner (medial) eyebrows. Along with her continual frown and partially closed eyelids, this is a classic nonverbal cluster consistent with emotional or physical pain. Ms. White's constant "wringing" of her hands is a clear indicator of anxiety. She also looks often down and to her right through out the interview. The vast majority of the time, during highly emotional moments/conversations, right handed people will look to this quadrant (I don't know Ms. White's handedness). At the very end of this clip, she closes her eyes in an "extended blink" - a classic blocking behavior (trying to block it out of her mind) when she says, ".....it's really not been fun." She finishes the interview with a hard swallow (anxiety indicator). The Body language signals we see here indicate emotional pain (constant), sadness (constant) and anxiety - in this context indicates Ginger White is probably telling the truth (very high confidence index). Moreover, at no time did her body language and her words contradict each other - another strong signal of honesty. (See Body Language Secret # 731: Sharon Bialek isn't Telling the Whole Truth).


Negotiation Body Language Secret # 457:
A Contempt Amplifier

Salman Rushdie is displaying classic contempt in this photo with this asymmetrical "pseudo-smile" - note how the left corner of his mouth is elevated. The left nasal-labial furrow (the crease which runs from the side of the lower nose past the sides of the mouth) is deeply indented along with the concomitant bulging (contraction) of the cheek. This is also accompanied by a dilation of his left nostril. Collectively this is classic nonverbal cluster for the emotion of contempt.

The primary take home point here is in reference to Mr. Rushdie's eyes - Salman's upper eyelids are very "droopy". The medical term for this is "ptosis". They have been this way for at least 25 plus years and so for him this is probably congenital issue. Congenital ptosis is a relatively rare problem - however in most scenarios we wouldn't necessarily be knowledgeable about someone's medical history. Unfortunately this bilateral lid position accentuates the emotional signal of contempt. The vast majority of the time when you observe a partial (or complete) prolonged lid closure - aka "Slow Motion Blink" it's a strong signal of arrogance/condescension/contempt. 


Monday, November 28, 2011

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 719:
When to Stand with Your Feet Together

Pictured above is an example of one of the very few occasions when a head-of-state should stand with their feet together. In this image, George W. Bush is seen paying his respects at the funeral of former U.S. President, Ronald Reagan. Standing with your feet touching or very close together as Mr. Bush is here, in the vast majority of scenarios is a signal of low confidence and/or low psychological comfort. The other meaning of this nonverbal is the emotion of, and/or desire to demonstrate - respect. This, of course, is why we see President Bush in this stance. When in the company of a superior, e.g. your boss, it's a good idea to show respect. However heads-of-state have no superiors. What remains for these leaders are the following: funerals, weddings, if a former president or prime minister, etc. is in the company of the country's current leader at a public gathering/ceremony,etc., when in the company of a religious leader, attending a religious service, receiving the remains of dead servicemen, visiting a cemetery, during The Pledge of Allegiance (or another country's equivalent), ceremonies at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (and similar events), or any other time a high level of respect should be shown. Sometimes it's a delicate balance between showing confidence and being/looking like a leader - and demonstrating respect.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 441:
Bill Clinton's Rapport and His Temporary Universe

This is a fantastic photo to analyze for Body Language nuance. It was taken in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina Recovery in 2005 at the Houston Astrodome. In the foreground is the Former U.S. President Bill Clinton. He's a master at making you believe - that for a moment, you and he are the only two people in the World. This is the essence of rapport. Here, he's making this injured victim of the storm feel very important by physically coming down to her level (ergo elevating her status) - very few adults would ever do this, especially someone of such stature. He faces this lady squarely with his feet, hips, chest and face pointed directly at her. [If he stayed and had a conversation, it would be paramount that after the initial introduction (approximately 10 seconds +/-) to turn his body at about a 30 degree angle to hers - otherwise this directly facing nonverbal will send confrontational signals]. Note his vertical hand orientation. Many alpha males automatically position their hand on top. Not Bill. He's a senior statesman and has been a two term president - he doesn't need to send dominance signals. He wants to make her feel like an equal - so he shakes her hand as one should with a peer. Mr. Clinton also has a sincere smile - no bottom teeth showing, not over dramatic and his eyes partially closed - all signs of sincerity. The greeting/introduction/handshake presents us with a rare exception for what is considered a sincere smile. Outside of the context of a greeting, a smile is insincere when the forehead and eyebrows are elevated - but not in this context. Indeed it's the complete opposite. This brief "eyebrow flash" with a concomitant forehead contraction is a strong signal of sincere emotions in this rare nonverbal exception. Moreover, those who don't display this particular body language signal in this setting are also considered less trustworthy, less approachable and less friendly. Regardless of your political ideology - it is obvious that Bill Clinton truly likes people. We all should endeavor to make it so obvious.

A noticeably younger, then Senator Barack Obama stands in the background holding President Clinton's coat.

Both the jacketed woman to Clinton's back-right and the man to his left are secret service agents. Note their eyes are open wider than normal resting eyes. I call this "White and Wide" - and in this context it's a signal of their increased adrenaline state in an area that is relatively insecure. They are "on alert". Normally the "fig-leaf" stance with the hands clasped in the front of the waist or groin is a lower confidence pose (see: Negotiation Secret # 593: Projecting and Detecting Confidence) - however this is another unusual example of a "body language exception to the rule". Law enforcement officers are often taught to stand this way so as to access their firearms more quickly. This position also gives them better use of their hands and arms in the event of an attack. An interesting additional sign is that the male secret service agent's thumbs are pointed up -  a high confidence signal (this would be fairly unusual for an unarmed, non-law enforcement person to adopt such a pose along with the normally low confidence "fig leaf"). Both agents are also standing in the very alpha and confident feet apart manner.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 361:
Another Bonding Adjunct During Laughter

Although many people are unaware of it, a primary role of laughter is a means of bonding more than it is a result of humor. This is a fundamental staple of Psychology 101. I pointed out in a post a few days ago (Negotiation Body Language Secret # 501: Bonding and Rapport Facilitators - The Laughing Lean) that women will often lean towards each other as the laughter maximizes and peaks. This nonverbal promotes bonding and builds rapport even further. In the above image, Herman Cain is leaning a bit towards Mitt Romney during a break at a recent Republican debate in Orlando, Florida. Sometimes when women or lovers do this, their heads will even touch - although such head touching is rare among straight men.

The shoulder or arm touch is a similar bonding adjunct. This nonverbal is seen commonly with both sexes. Discretion must be exercised though, so as to avoid evoking patronizing feelings. In some contexts this body language will back fire - and you may rapidly "Un-bond".


Negotiation Body Language Secret # 337:
Low Confidence Stance

All other things being equal - a person will project significantly greater confidence and be perceived as a superior leader and more successful - if they stand with their feet a bit apart. The ideal distance is about a shoulder's width for men and slightly less for women. Congress person Michele Bachmann, R-MN, shown here (Politico/NBC Debate held at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, CA), is by most accounts a confident person. Earlier this year however, she enjoyed a top or near-top ranking in most polls for the U.S. republican presidential nomination. However, since mid-summer 2011 her poll ranking has precipitously dropped to single digit percentages. Her foot position here may be a by-product of this decline - indicating her own emotional tone about her relative lack of success of late; but it almost never should be displayed by anyone in a leadership position - certainly not a head-of-state or anyone seeking such office. 

If you stand like Representative Bachmann is, you will feel more beta, act more demure and with a strong tendency to acquiesce. Among other things this would be very poor debate-coaching advice. Your ability to "think on your feet" is significantly heightened by the more confident, feet apart Body Language. Incredibly this will even be reflected verbally in your word choice, volume, cadence, etc. Simply standing with your feet a shoulder's width apart (give or take) - will truly engender feeling, speaking and acting more alpha, more assertive and more confident - thus embodying the qualities we all want and need in our leaders.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Body Language Secret # 355:
A Signal of Physical Pain

As this survivor of the 2011 Earthquake in Turkey (epicenter near the City of Van) is being pulled from the rubble, we can observe a very characteristic expression of pain on her face. Specifically, although it is somewhat difficult to see, I want to call your attention to her central forehead. It's strongly contracted. In the context of consciousness and significant physical pain, it's nearly impossible to have an absence of this highly emblematic nonverbal facial signal.


Negotiation Body Language Secret # 515:
Huntsman's Skeptical Eyebrow

Jon Huntsman has a right eyebrow that is very commonly elevated. The right side of his forehead, as expected, also shows a simultaneous contraction and elevation. An image search of this former U.S. Ambassador to China, will turn up an extremely high percentage of photos with this characteristic nonverbal signal. While this is probably an idiosyncrasy or perhaps akin to a facial tic, it has the unfortunate consequence of sending strong signals of skepticism.

A very common correlation is seen between tension in the hands and tension and/or negative emotional facial expressions. Conversely, when the hands and arms are relaxed, the face also tends to be more at ease. In the political world in particular, the "Politician's Point" has become quite vogue. However, in this photo the former Governor of Utah performs this Body Language maneuver incorrectly - as do many of his peers. Properly done, the thumb and index finger come together in a gentle circle/oval - not in a pinched-off, tear drop shaped as Mr. Huntsman shows us here. In addition the remainder of the fingers should also be relaxed and open (See Leadership Secret # 35: A Friendly Way to Point). While Huntsman's modified version of the political point is certainly much better than a traditional index finger point, his negative (and vote losing) facial expression would have a strong tendency to melt away once this tension in the hand disappears.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 501:
Bonding and Rapport Facilitators - The Laughing Lean

Laughter is really more of a bonding facilitator than it is necessarily a pure byproduct of humor. A common example of this phenomenon is manifested daily in cinemas all over the World. When the same comedy is played, people always laugh more when the theater is crowded - compared to when it's sparsely filled.

There are several body language gestures which can accentuate this laughing-bonding-rapport building process. A very common one is demonstrated here between U.S. First Lady, Michelle Obama and Ms. Oprah Winfrey. As bouts of laughter are near maximum crescendo as well as their peak, it is very common for those laughing to subconsciously reduce their interpersonal space. This is very often and sincerely manifested nonverbally by a leaning of the head(s) and upper body towards the other person. It often is mutual and simultaneous. Sometimes during extreme laughing bouts there may even be a touching of heads. This head tilt is significantly more common and pronounced with women compared with men.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 705: R2E2,
Pseudo-Smiles and Bonding Beguiles

There are many types of pseudo-smiles and this photo of Jemima Marcelle Khan is a great example of but one. With a sincere smile, the bottom teeth should not be visible. At the very least, if you see any of the lower sixteen, there is a component of forced behavior or an attempt to exaggerate the smile. Hugh Grant's ex's nose and her perinasal area in this particular example is also not characteristic of a sincere, felt smile. It is however, very consistent with the emotion of disgust (Ekman). This particular false-smile nonverbal is a favorite of actors and those in the public eye because most find it fairly easy to replicate on-demand (Pease).

Another variation of this facial expression (here disgust, but also may appear similar to disgust - especially the nasal/perinasal disgust-like changes) is often seen when a person is trying to convince another of their point-of-view. In these scenarios, the mouth component is often less pronounced. It represents an attempt to build rapport and empathy, e.g. - when the expressor feels the need to convince another (or themselves). When you see it displayed - know it as a signal of rationalization taking place. I call it the "Rationalization-Rapport-Empathy-Expression" (R2E2), (Brown, 2011). While it is usually quite evanescent, and it can be as brief as a classically described microexpression (less than 0.5 seconds), it more typically lasts somewhat longer (1 - 2 seconds). Along with the pronounced nose-wrinkling and false-smiling mouth, there is an exaggerated partial eyelid closure (aka "squint" or "squinting") and bunching of the cheeks.

When these R2E2 facial changes occur, there is often an additional, brief and simultaneous "leaning forward" towards the other person(s) (Brown, 2011). This temporary closure of the interpersonal space suggests greater friendship-intimacy-trust and it's a further subconscious attempt at building rapport.

Often times there is a component of the R2E2 that's directed at oneself just as much (or more), than what's focused on others. When you see this nonverbal, rationalization is taking place - often because full confidence is lacking - and thus often a component of manipulation is occurring. 

The R2E2 is displayed by either sex, but is slightly more common and more pronounced in women and gay men.


Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 26: Hugh Grant's Cheeks - Body Language

The "Cheek Scratch with an Open Mouth," is a very common expression of disagreement-related anxiety. It is particularly common among men. Here Hugh Grant demonstrates this nonverbal cue nicely. Of course, Mr. Grant is an accomplished actor - but still very human. Although he many be able to control his body language better than most - his emotions are still revealed when he's in an anxiety producing scenario. Often seen in conjunction with this gesture (but not in this image) are an elevation of the eyebrows and forehead. Hugh's eyebrows are in a normal position, but if they had been elevated and his entire forehead (not just the central portion) wrinkled (muscles contracted) there would be an additional emotional component of apprehensiveness-doubt. When you see these signals simultaneously or within a few seconds, it constitutes a "Gesture Cluster". It's a signal that a person is in disagreement with what they are seeing and/or hearing and believe a different course of action should be taken. In this context they usually have a specific plan in mind. Be aware that they also may not be so revealing of their thoughts with their words - for this gesture often accompanies clandestine tactics. It is very commonly seen in business meetings or negotiations - and thus is a fantastic tell.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 357:
Mila Kunis and Sergeant Scott Moore

Mila Kunis made good Friday night on her promise and attended the 236th Marine Corps Birthday Ball with Sergeant Scott Moore in Greenville, North Carolina. On a bet with a fellow marine, Sgt. Moore asked Mila out via YouTube from Afghanistan this past summer. The beautiful star of Friends with Benefits and Black Swan said, "yes". Kinda fairy tale, isn't it?

There are several great Body Language examples in this photo. Here's a caveat: it's difficult to read the nonverbal signals on a person's forehead when they have bangs. There is a lot of expression, variations (or just as telling - sometimes a lack of expression) on the forehead, and if covered, you've got less cues on which to rely. Bangs detract from the ability to act and show emotion. In general, if you're directing a movie - you want your actors/actresses to be able to use as much as their face as possible with which to act. No Bangs! 

In this particular image, it may be difficult for some to note, but Mila's eyebrows are elevated - so it's a very safe bet her forehead is raised (contracted) as well. Here's a fantastic nonverbal correlate - WHEN A PERSON IS BEING HONEST & SINCERE, THE FACE IS ALMOST ALWAYS CONGRUENT WITH THE HANDS (the reverse is seen too, but it is not as reliable); e.g. - If the hands shows stress, so will the face - if the hands show anger, the face will too, etc. So here, Mila's hands (and words) are telling a story. We have no idea what the story's about, but here she's holding her hands about 18 inches apart to demonstrate emphasis. Because her eyebrows and forehead are elevated - these are also, in this context, serving as exclamation marks. Thus because Ms. Kunis' facial nonverbal is congruent with the body language of her hands, we have a high degree of confidence that she is being sincere and honest. It would be much easier to observe this though if we could see Mila's forehead.

Wouldn't it be great if they lived happily ever after?


Negotiation Body Language Secret # 703:
Putin Pulling his Puppet

This photo is for anyone who doubts who is the real puppet master. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is very obviously angry at his President Dmitry Medvedev - but let's dissect this photo. Always the alpha dog, Putin is red-faced. The Russian President's distended veins (most obviously on his left temple) indicate an (unconscious) valsalva maneuver. Both of these nonverbal signs are consistent with a momentary increase in blood pressure and decreased venous return - ergo in this context, anger. Additionally, his head is tilted down, while his eyebrows are pulled together and lowered - all body language cues for anger. Another indication of this emotion is Vladimir's mid-face tightening - particularly to the sides of his nose, and also (although it's difficult to tell from this angle) nostril dilation. Finally Mr. Putin's jaw is jutting forward. Put all these signals together and they constitute a body language "Cluster" of anger. If we were in this meeting - we'd love to know what he was saying - but we wouldn't really have to, because we'd know what he was feeling.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 757:
Asma's Mild Jaw Jut

Here Asma al-Assad, Syria's First Lady is exhibiting a subtle "Jaw Jut". As with all first ladies, she is put in many a situation for which she does not particularly care - yet her "game face" is much better than most. Here her mandible is protruding a mild amount. This is a significant sign of anger and while she has no other visible signs of this emotion, we can be sure of its presence. In men in particular, this is a signal that their anger may escalate - so take heed. Like most negative nonverbals, be wary that those displaying it are rarely aware of the presence, the level or the progression of their anger. Asma is perhaps, if only for a moment, a relative and rare exception to this rule. Anyone can spot dramatic anger - but it should be your goal to spot its subtle signs.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 801:
Mirroring Down Under

This photo was taken during an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Honolulu, Hawai'i. In it we see demonstrated a great example of "Mirroring" of U. S. President Barack Obama by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. We tend to mirror those we like and/or respect - and the vast majority of the time this is done subconsciously. Deliberate and conscious mirroring can be a way of building rapport with another, but you must be very careful not to mirror too simultaneously or too precisely - lest your behavior becomes obvious and it backfires. Another potential disaster with mirroring, is that you could mimic a negative nonverbal without knowing it. Ouch!


Negotiation Body Language Secret # 881:
Two Contradictory Signals
which Always Indicates Negative Emotion

This is James Arthur Ray, aka "The Sweat Lodge Guru" upon learning he was found guilty for negligent homicide in the deaths of three of his client/followers and sentenced to two years in prison. His facial expression is very inconsistent with a person who is remorseful of wrongdoing. We can clearly see mild to moderate wrinkling on his central upper forehead area, indicating muscle contracture - however the peripheral (outer) forehead is relaxed. This is a extremely common and virtually required nonverbal signal see when someone is experiencing emotional or physical pain. This pain may be directly experienced or sensed via empathy. 

So far this is what we would expect - however, notice his mild smile. This is extremely inconsistent with physical or emotional pain of any type. When these two contradictory signs are seen together - red flags should be dramatically raised and all alarms sounded. Be warned! - It is extremely common to see these particular contradictory beacons without any negative verbal indicators (e.g. good words with negative body language). So in such situations, there is rotten behavior afoot.  This combination is always a signal of a negative emotion, at the very least strong insincerity or contempt. In the context as we see it displayed here, this body language is highly suggestive of a sociopath or psychopathic tenancies.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 387:
Extended and Interwoven Fingers

This is United States Senator and former Presidential Candidate, John Kerry, D-MA. He is pictured here during a recent meeting of the "Super Committee" (The United States Congress Joint Selection Committee on Deficit Reduction). He is one of its twelve members.

The tension in his mid-face, the thinning of the lips, the clenching of Kerry's jaw and the lowering of his eye brows are all consistent with anger.  I want to draw your attention to his hands however. Notice his fingers are intertwined and extended. This is a great nonverbal tell of stress. When the fingers are extended and interwoven in this fashion - there is a significant component of anxiety present (Navarro). In an interview or meeting setting, it is very likely that the question which was just asked or the issue which was just raised - evoked this anxiety. You would be well advised to slow down the conversation, dig deeper and use the Socratic method to get to the root of this great body language tell.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 771:
Many Signals Steeple on the Super Committee

This is an excellent Body Language photo of the four of the Congressional "Super Committee" members (United States Congress Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction). Most notable here and in most in focus is Rep. Fred Upton R-MI (light colored shirt and only one not in a suit jacket). His hands (and eyes) are in sending several messages in a group of simultaneous gestures. 

Notice how Representative Upton is covering his mouth - as are three of the four men pictured here. In this context, it is a signal of strong disapproval and even disbelief of the speaker (unseen) or the opinion being voiced. 

Mr. Upton's mostly interlaced fingers indicates negative/frustrated/defensive emotions and perhaps impatience (as does his democratic colleague to his right, Rep. Jim Clyburn D-SC). 

Upton's index fingers are meeting in a modified, partial steeple which is an extremely common nonverbal in a person of authority. A steeple, particularly a high steeple indicates confidence - however this is a partial steeple - ergo a lower level of confidence. The steeple gesture (particularly a full steeple) should be used only briefly and in well chosen times and settings as it often sends signals of arrogance and condescension. 

Thumbs on the chin is often a sign of true thought and consideration (note the Committee Member two seats to Mr. Upton's right - while not fully visible, probably has his thumb on his chin as well). 

Finally notice Fred Upton's eyes are mostly or entirely closed. This is a blocking signal - in effect Mr. Upton's subconscious is wishing whatever he is hearing/visualizing away for a few seconds.

So in summary in Representative Upton we see the following emotions as displayed via Body Language:  
  1. Strong disapproval, and perhaps thoughts he (and others) believe he (they) are hearing deception
  2. Negative/frustrated/defensive emotions and/or impatience
  3. Confidence (but not overly confident)
  4. True thought and contemplation
  5. A "wishing away" (psychological blocking)
This is a very complex body language photo (still only partially analyzed). Of course in the real world in which we all live and work is in a constant state of flux with words being spoken and many other distractions ....and they won't hold still for us to dissect. 


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Negotiation Body Language Secret 731:
Super Mario Monte's Dominant Spider

This is Mario Monte, aka "Super Mario". He's the Yale educated, Italian economist, politician, Bocconi University President and adviser to Goldman Sachs, who's been asked to step in as the Italian Prime Minister after Silvio Berlusconi's recent resignation. The gesture he's using here is what I call "The Dominant Spider". Like other palm-down gestures, it sends a message of authority and dominance. Palm down gestures should be used very sparingly and as the vast majority of the audience will feel patronized. "Overly Alpha Males" (and females) tend to use palm down gestures in excess. Such personalities do not lend themselves to negotiation or compromise (See Negotiation Secret # 702).


Monday, November 14, 2011

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 665:
A Strong Sign of Insincerity

Bashar al-Assad has chronically displayed signals of insincerity. This moderate resolution image of Syria's current President exemplifies a great nonverbal beacon of this emotional feign. When a person is gesturing to their upper chest, if it's sincere - it's a subconscious body language signal. When someone is trying to deceive you though - their subconscious sabotages the conscious mind, and we will see highly characteristic nonverbal tells of dishonesty - if we know what & where to look.  

There are several characteristics to be wary of ... enter al-Assad. Notice how he touches his chest only with the tips of his fingers & thumb. If someone is being honest with their feelings, their PALM will touch too, not just their fingers. This In addition, al-Assad is using his non-dominant hand (he's right handed) - if he were sincere, he'd be using his right, dominant hand. Another sign to look for, is an insincere person will sometimes place their hand on the RIGHT (the heart-less) side of the chest (the heart is on the left side). President al-Assad only shows this to a mild degree in this particular example and we would probably miss it here if we didn't have the benefit of a still-photo or video to examine (see Negotiation Body Language Secrets: # 19, 35 & 42 for a better example of this "hand-on-wrong-side-of-chest" signal).

Chronic insincerity is a very strong indicator of what psychological disorder(s)? 


Negotiation Body Language Secret # 349:
Pointing with Two Fingers (or more)

When you're speaking and you feel the need to point, there are several different ways to do so. Some are better and some are horrific. The more digits you use to point with, the more it "softens" the point - and the less you offend. If done correctly, you'll build rapport with your audience - even an audience of one. It is best to point with the entire hand - with all five digits approximately three-quarters extended but still relaxed and the palm directed upwards. The wrist, elbow and shoulder should be relaxed as well. The more fully extended (and thus more tense) these joints are - the greater a similar level of tension will be displayed on the face. These tensions feed off each other. Here Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister of Australia, points with two fingers and her thumb - however because of the 95% full extension of these digits as well as a similar effort in her entire arm - although it has less sting than the classic one-finger point, she would be well advised to further mellow-out this gesture. Pointing is a universally negative nonverbal - regardless of your culture or country.

Everyone can remember a parent telling us when we were very young, "...don't point, it's rude...", or some variation on this theme - and yet very many an accomplished and otherwise skilled adult commits this body language sin all too often..... a' la David Stern (see: Negotiation Secret # 339: Don't Point at Me! I'm Not Your Child!) Whom have you pointed at today?


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 373:
Papademos, Greece and Eyelids

Pictured above is Lucas Papademos, the New Prime Minister of Greece. Notice his eyelids are both partially closed, but his left is closed a bit more. This is a fantastic tell of a negative judgement and/or a skeptical opinion. You can almost hear him rendering a negative statement here - and yet it's incredible how often people will speak positivity about a person and/or issue and use this expression. Duplicitous! Now of course, the Prime Minister may very well had making a negative declaration in this moment - and if he was, this facial body language is completely expected. However...if you see another use this facial nonverbal tell - but they speak glowingly - believe their body language, not their words. Watch out!

There often is co-existing mid-face tightening seen with this asymmetrical eyelid closure as well, particularly in the "mustache area". Lucas demonstrates that splendidly here. Also be on the lookout for nasal dilation. Mr. Papademos' left nostril is brilliantly flared here, indicating coexisting contempt. I wonder to whom he was speaking?


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Negotiation and Leadership Secret # 415:
When is it Appropriate
for a President to Stand in the "Fig-leaf"?

Yesterday, Veterans Day in the U.S., President Obama attended a ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery. Here is is pictured at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The President is standing with his hands-clasped in this very familiar "Fig-Leaf" formation. While the fig-leaf usually is a signal of low confidence - in some contexts it certainly indicates other emotions. One is respect and another is reverence. These are two leadership-appropriate messages a President or Head of State should desire to convey using the fig-leaf. 

So when is it appropriate for a President to Stand in the "Fig-leaf"? Very few times. One example is a funeral or a ceremony to honor those who have died serving in the military - as pictured above. Another is at any religious service. If he were meeting with the Dalai Lama, the Pope or another high religious leader he/she may want to adopt this pose as well - even if there was no service or ongoing religious activity. If a past-president or head-of-state was standing next to the current equivalent leader at a ceremony or introduction, the former leader may want to use the fig-leaf here as well. Weddings are another venue for the fig-leaf.

With these few exceptions, and perhaps a few other respect-reverence scenarios which I have omitted, a head-of-state should never stand in the fig-leaf pose, lest he/she convey low confidence. A head-of-state should not adopt this pose around other World leaders if he/she is to command respect (unless of course at a funeral, etc. as detailed above). It will certainly place them at a leadership and negotiation disadvantage. Moreover, standing this way will even change your physiology and actively lower one's confidence. Nonverbal signals are indications of what the emotional brain is feeling in real-time, and maintaining the body language will engender and reinforce the emotion.


Negotiation Secret # 217:
Predicting a Fight (Boxing) based on Body Language

Can you predict the outcome of a boxing match based on the Body Language of the fighters? Yes. At least you can say who, going into the fight has more confidence. In tonight's Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez III fight in Las Vegas, Pacquiao not only demonstrates more confidence, but Marquez shows some trepidation. Both of these men are in great shape and are considered by many to be two of boxing's best - so clearly they each have talent, skill and experience. Any athlete knows though - that in close games, races, matches or fights - it comes down to who has more confidence.

In the above image, while the resolution is modest, one can clearly see the suppressed yet sincere smile of Pacquiao (left). His raised cheeks and orbicularis oculi pars orbitalis muscles (which elevate the cheeks and surround and close the eyelids) each "bunch-up" the tissue of his lower lids. This is a fantastic example of someone smiling with their eyes while trying to suppress their mouth component of the smile (most people wrongfully think the mouth is the only component of a smile). Yet we still can still see the corners of his mouth elevated. Marquez (right) is clearly frowning. He's not trying to look mean or menacing here - he's frowning. Frowning is anything but a beacon of confidence.

Another difficult thing to see in this photo (but it can be seen in videos of this weigh-in) is Marquez's tendency to chew on the inside of his mouth. In the Body Language lexicon, this is known as "false mastication" and in this context, it is a classic nonverbal sign of fear-anxiety. In other settings it may indicate lying-anxiety (See Negotiation Secret # 33: False Mastication for a better photographic example).

Another signal in the image above, is very subtle. It's a trace of fear in Marquez's eyes. Can you see it?

In the photo below, I want to call your attention to each man's shoulders. Pacquiao's are positioned more posterior (towards his back) giving him a much more "squared-off" appearance. Marquez's shoulders are considerably more forward - giving his shoulders a rounded silhouette. This is a strong signal of high confidence (Pacquiao) vs. low confidence (Marquez). Head position is also very important, however Marquez's slight chin-forward, nose up pose is so cliche' in boxing weigh-ins, as to be a caricature - so in this particular moment, it has little meaning.

Based on each boxer's confidence at the time of this weigh-in, Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao will defeat Juan Manuel Marquez. You heard it here first. How much are you wagering on Manny?


Negotiation Body Language Secret # 347:
Joe Paterno's Regret

This image of Joe Paterno was taken on November 9, 2011 - after he announced his retirement - but a few hours before the Penn State Board of Trustees fired him. At first glance what most people see is a half-hearted attempt at a smile. This is one of several variations of what is known as a "Social Smile". If you look just at Paterno's mouth - this would be sub-classified as a "bitter smile" (Ekman). Of course, it does not represent joy or happiness. It is characterized by a closed mouth, lips moderately lightened, with the corners drawn more laterally than a sincere smile. The cheeks are bunched-up (contracted) but this contracture is lower on face than that of a true, felt smile. It often co-exists with other negative emotional signs - see below.

Superimposed on this variation of a "Social Smile" is disgust. Joe's "mustache area" (below the nose and above the upper lip) is tightened and elevated along with some nasal flaring. In addition, the nasal-labial furrows (creases running from the lower sides of the nose past the corners of the mouth) are deepened. These are very characteristic signals of disgust. Disgust is not always an emotion felt toward others, sometimes it is self-directed. 

Extremely telling here is Coach Paterno's central forehead muscle contraction. When you see such a display, you should think first of pain - either emotional or physical. These pains may be directly being experienced or felt through empathy. Since we know the story (or part of it) behind his departure, his pain here is emotional.

As you learn nonverbal communication, be careful not to place too much emphasis on only one signal. Depending on their contexts - these signs may have wholly different meanings. Body language must be interpreted in totality. This photo of Joe is a great example - that in the real World, it is very common to see several emotions simultaneously. Here we see displayed: a social smile (bitter smile), disgust as well as (emotional) pain. When several signs are seen at the same time or nearly so - these are known as "clusters"- which are analogous to sentences. How fluent are you?


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 346:
Rick Perry Forgets:
8 Republican Presidential Hopefuls Debate in Detroit -
60 seconds of Oops, Body Language and Empathy

Last Night the 2012 Republican Presidential hopefuls had another debate in Rochester, Michigan. This video clip will no doubt be shown for years to come as to what not to do in a debate. If you haven't seen it yet, watch it now - it's only 60 seconds long. There's some good, bad, and ugly and very useful body language lessons here.

0:01 - 0:06 Gov. Rick Perry:  He begins this clip with the MAJOR FAUX PAS, "Finger point-hand chop" (FPHC). This is always a negative nonverbal. It offends the audience and it will lose you voters/believers/employees' respect - even if they initially like you. It is universally negatively received and will interpreted as patronizing at best. If someone displays FPHC in response to an accusation (which doesn't apply to Gov. Perry here) then there is a very high likelihood of a simultaneous deceptive statement. Remember President Bill Clinton? (see "Change the Person, Time and circumstances a bit, if this were your spouse or co-worker, how would you call this?").

0:08 - 0:16 Gov. Rick Perry: "...it's three agencies - that when I get there that will be gone, Commerce, Education, and...." At the beginning of this segment, Perry does a smart thing that most politicians don't take advantage of - he begins counting on his thumb. Most North Americans begin counting on their index finger (Pease) - Perry starts with his thumb. This does two things: it allows the candidate to use the thumbs up gesture first - which is a near-universal display of optimism (when they begin to count). It also simultaneously avoids the pseudo-point when counting with the index finger first. Finger pointing is also universally negatively received. Unfortunately the whole video is centered around him forgetting the third Federal Department he wants to omit ...so this nonverbal pearl is overshadowed by his memory lapse.

Notice how when it came time to name the third department, while his thumb and his index finger were fully extended - showing his commitment and demonstrating the strength of his opinion - his middle finger did not become fully lengthened - but only half so. It mirrored his memory. His conscious mind couldn't remember the Department of Energy. He had nothing to commit to - so his subconscious mind reflected this lack of commitment-confidence. If he had only forgot for a second instead, and then recalled it, his third digit would have become fully extended. But he didn't.... Rather his other finger and thumb curled up to match it. If people count on their fingers and yet they don't fully extend them - while their words may say they're certain and confident - DON'T BELIEVE THEM. Watch their fingers.

At 0:16 Perry pointed at his temple. People very often touch or scratch this particular region when they're trying to recall something. Rick demonstrates that very well here.

Ron Paul makes the mistake of turning towards Perry. This gives Perry more credibility than Paul should want to give. After all - it's a debate. Paul makes a further mistake too. While holding up all five digits (presumably trying to say he thinks five Federal Departments should be cut) - he shows Perry five digits. Then he does the same to the audience. He held up the back of his hand to Perry while showing the audience his palm. This should have been done in reverse. Showing someone your palm is considerably more offensive and disrespectful. Paul should seek to demonstrate respect for the audience while making his point - and also dismissing Perry. Most people cringe when they see the gesture of the palm-forward-claw as Paul showed us/the audience.

At 0:30 - 0:35, when anchor/commentator John Harwood says, "....Seriously....is the EPA the one you were talking about or....?" Notice Harwood's forehead muscles contract, wrinkling his forehead and elevating his brow. When another's forehead/eyebrows take this formation upon asking a question, there is a very high probability they already know (or believe they know) the answer to the question which THEY ARE ASKING. It maybe obvious and sarcastically-rhetorical, but it is often camouflaged. Depending on the context and what other nonverbals are clustered with it - this may also indicate incredulity.

At the 0:45 - 0:50 mark, when Gov. Perry is again trying to recall the departments he would cut, he looks down and to HIS left. Right handed people will very often look in this quadrant when trying to choose the correct words, phrases, syntax, etc. After 0:50, Perry looks straight down at his notes, but the Department of Energy is not to be found.

At the 0:57 - 0:58 mark, Perry shows us a great subtle expression of Contempt. The left side of his mouth elevates in what may look to some as a partial-half smile. There is also some mild nasal dilation. The object of his contempt is most probably himself.

Oops! Stepped in it!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 345:
Dialing Up Her Alpha

This is an image of Ms. Sharon Bialek immediately after her press conference two days ago when she accused Republican Presidential Nominee Hopeful, Herman Cain of unwanted sexual advances - which she alleges occurred in 1997. This particular hair-adjust-behind-the-ear gesture (HABE) is extremely common. It belongs to a set of behaviors known in the Body Language world as a Manipulators, Adaptors or Pacifiers (MAPs). These terms are synonyms and in general, are types of self-touching. They are indicative of increased anxiety at the particular moment of and immediately preceding their display. The hair-adjust-behind-the-ear is seen almost exclusively with women and gay men although straight men will occasionally exhibit it. Specifically, when you see the HABE maneuver, the subconscious is calling on the psyche to "dial-up" the Alpha personality qualities (e.g. Less Beta and more Alpha). The emotional mind is trying to be more assertive. This is a fantastic and very consistent signal telling you the person perceives themselves at a disadvantage, less confident, and out of their element. While MAPs do not indicate deception, their frequency increases at times of deception - especially hand-to-face MAPs. Never self-touch, particularly your face when speaking. Interestingly, audience members will perceive speakers as less credible when they commit MAPs. The HABE has several more stereotypical male analogs. Would you recognize any of these masculine displays?


Monday, November 7, 2011

Body Language Secret # 731:
Sharon Bialek Isn't Telling the Whole Truth

While in no way I want to minimize the idea or the act of sexual assault or harassment, and while I cannot at this time comment on Herman Cain's other three alleged accusers, I feel strongly that Ms. Sharon Bialek, at the least is not telling the whole truth and may be fabricating most of the events she alleges took place in July of 1997. For me this is not a republican or democrat issue, this is a truth/deception issue. My inquiry is based on Ms. Bialek's (and Allred's) nonverbal communication as well as on statement analysis. Sexual assault and unwanted sexual advances are very serious matters and should not be taken lightly.

The overall emotional tone of Ms. Bialek is completely inconsistent with someone who has been mistreated sexually. Ms. Gloria Allred's inappropriate attempt at humor at the 3:49 mark in the first video, when she says, "...his idea of a stimulus package...." (note Ms. Allred is speaking out the side of her mouth, highly consistent with insincerity), is met with Ms. Bialek's partially unsuccessful  suppression of a smile. Ladies, if you were truly sexually assaulted/or experienced aggressive uninvited advances, you would not want to be fodder for such a public joke; and you would not laugh, smirk or smile at the moment of such a joke. In her jesting, Ms. Allred trivializes sexual crimes and Ms. Bialek betrays her true thoughts and emotions.

At the 4:00 mark in the above video when Ms. Allred says "...written statements under oath from the doctor...." (Bialek's then boyfriend) and again (but less so) at the 4:23 mark when Allred says, "....and engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with her..." - Ms. Bialek takes a significantly deep breaths. While these do not prove deception, their timing indicates marked anxiety and are suspicious in this context.

At several times, Ms. Bialek indicates she is visualizing and mentally constructing future events when at the 4:37 mark Allred says, "...she will explain..." and at 4:52 when she states "...she will face public scrutiny...". At both of these times, Bialek looks up to her right. With these two examples, we have normed her (established some baseline, nondeceptive behavior). Ms. Bialek looks up to her right when visually constructing something that has not yet happened which is extremely common for right handed people (something that she is visualizing to happen in the future or something that she is having to falsely visually construct). This is significant because at several times (e.g. at 4:33) when Allred said "....when she told the business man that Mr. Cain had been aggressive with her...." - she again looks up to the right. If she had been recalling visual events from her past, she would have looked up to her left instead. Ms. Bialek has been "normed" and been found wanting.

Ms. Bialek state of high animation and excitement for the press conference is not consistent with the actions of which she accuses Mr. Cain. If she truly experienced the events she alleges, she should have done a lot less reading and more speaking from her memory. While this is indeed a less controlled environment for a rookie at a press conference, Ms. Allred should (and does) know that reading from a script is a considerably less believable.

Sharon Bialek was overly theatrical when she said three particular statements:
     "When are you running for President?"
     "Herman seems to think highly of you!" (with a microexpression of contempt displayed) and
     "Why... are... you ... here?"
This level of drama is not consistent with someone who is the victim of unwanted sexual advances. It is consistent with a novice's attempt at acting and/or narcissistic behavior. The microexpression of contempt is also an interesting display. It is not clear whether she has contempt for Herman Cain, herself, or her old boyfriend.

Ms. Bialek's dramatic and repeated over use of her forehead (contraction thus wrinkling of her forehead muscles) and repeated eye brow elevation is an attempt to add emphasis. If the events were in fact true, no emphasis would be needed. More importantly, a person telling such a story would feel the facts speak for themselves. Ms. Bialek's subconscious doesn't allow her to feel this way - so up goes her forehead & eyebrows. This is analogous to a forth grader writing a English homework assignment with exclamation marks at the end of every sentence.

When Allred states, "...under the penalty of perjury...." at and around the 6:15 mark in the first video, Ms. Bialek's eyes open wider than normal. This "white and wide" appearance is consistent with fear.

Sharon Bialek also performed a Body Language signal, that while it does not prove lying, it is highly consistent with deception, especially in this context (which occurs at the very end of the first video). She itches her nose during the following sentence: "I thought that we were going to go into the offices (itch) so that he could show me around." There is a high probability that a significant fact/set of facts is being left out of this portion of Ms. Bialek's story.

When Ms. Bialek described the moment of the alleged sexual advance (second video BELOW), she makes a  swallow (consistent with anxiety-deception) at 0:13, takes a deep breath (anxiety...at 0:17 mark) - alleged under the skirt advance and when she said "...reached for my genitals..." (at 0:18) there was an inward lip roll. An inward lip roll is consistent with anxiety and often seen when there is a negative emotion when the person is calling on increased emotional control.

It is also very striking to hear Ms. Bialek reading (not recalling) what she allegedly said to Mr. Cain at the time of the alleged groping, "What are you doing?"... "...you know I have a boyfriend...". Again, she is not remembering - Bialek is reading this ... in a robotic, unnatural voice for someone who is claiming to have had the experience. In addition, the statement about a boyfriend is an odd thing to say. What about, "Stop!", "Hey!", "Help!", a scream,  etc?

It is extremely suspicious that Ms. Bialek told two men that Mr. Cain had been, "...sexually inappropriate with me..." and yet she stated outright that "....I didn't tell them details....". In particular, when one of these men was her boyfriend at the time, why leave out the details? I also find it odd that Ms. Bialek didn't tell any women friends, just two male friends. This is also highly atypical. It is much more common to tell women friends such incidents and not tell men.

At the end of her statement, when Ms. Bialek is recalling a recent time when she saw Herman Cain, she tends to look up much more. This is consistent with true recall of an event, rather than the near constant looking down and reading which she did for most of her statement. Indeed, when she has the most consistent eye contact with the audience is when she adds a political twist at the very end. Her true passion has betrayed her. 

After Bialek's statement, and Allred begins to speak again, Sharon Bialek laughs, gives a big smile and says, "....I just had a .... (inaudible).This is a very inappropriate time to laugh and in this context is consistent with narcissistic behavior (see: Negotiation and Dating Secret # 111: The Great Phone Tell, for another Nonverbal signal which can be a sign of narcissism).

Ms. Bialek's sincerity quotient is very low. She very much enjoys the limelight and has looked for and found her 15 minutes of fame and apparently has found it.

Once again, Sexual assault, unwanted sexual advances and sexual harassment are serious matters. I do not wish to minimize or trivialize these crimes. False accusations are also serious matters. I cannot comment on Mr. Cain's other accusers, but there is a very high probability that Ms. Bialek's statement has a significant component of deception.