Friday, November 25, 2011

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.