Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 399:
The Whites of His Eyes and an
Abandoned Ship

Costa Concordia Ship Captain Francesco Schettino is shown in this photo with a fairly subtle expression of fear. While most everyone can recognize extreme examples of various emotions, it amazes me how often people, who have otherwise very good interpersonal skills, cannot distinguish moderate emotional expressions, let alone subtle examples. This image shows very mild tension in Schettino's mouth - with the corners pulled slightly down and posteriorly (backwards). What is a bit more telling however, is the former Captain's eyes. His eye lids are opened slightly wider than normal displaying a bit more whites of the eyes (sclera) than is typically seen. When the eyes are opened in this "White and Wide" fashion - three emotions should immediately come to mind - surprise (see Secret # 21: Surprise + Fear + Empathy), rage (see Secret # 817: Anger and Steroids in Milwaukee) and that which we see exampled here - fear. 

The Costa Concordia is a cruise ship which ran aground off the coast of Italy and partially sank on Friday, 13 January 2012. At least 11 people were killed and there are still 29 missing at the time of this writing. Including the crew, there were 4,229 on board at the time of the accident. Captain Schettino is currently in jail and could face up to 15 years in prison.