Thursday, January 12, 2012

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 772:
Haley Barbour's Dominance

Yesterday, on his last day in office as Governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour pardoned, granted clemency or early release of 203 prisoners. Although some of these individuals have already been released, today a Mississippi judge has blocked any additional inmates from going free. In this image, we see Gov. Barbour a few years ago being visited by then President George W. Bush. Haley's Hand is rotated inwards about 40-45 degrees - and partially on top of Bush's hand, thus this is a subtle to moderate dominance display. It is obviously not as overtly dominant as the completely palm-down handshake used by so many alpha males of the political persuasion, but it's a definitive dominance display none the less. You can bet President Bush got the message. 

It is very possible that the highest office holder in a modestly populated southern state is accustomed to being very dominant to essentially everyone he meets and re-meets. Ergo, he may be oblivious to the dominance message he's sending to the President and leader of his own political party. It's also possible he's deliberately and very consciously doing so - although this is considerably less likely. Deliberately or not - negative repercussions still result - as the recipient is another human being with a very human brain, psyche and ego. It's one thing to project dominance to a subordinate or perhaps, in the right setting, someone you perceive to be a peer. It's quite another to send similar signals to your superior. Governor Barbour was probably very unaware he was "one-upping" President Bush. Being ignorant of your own body language and the signals you're sending can be very detrimental to your career. Bruised anyone's ego today?