Tuesday, November 29, 2011

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.