Friday, January 20, 2012

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 831:
Santorum's Hands and the Alpha-Beta Hybrid

Where to put the hands? Well, this topic is very context related. It is NEVER a "one sized fits all" scenario. However, here Presidential hopeful, Rick Santorum, former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania shows us a great "Alpha-Beta hybrid" with regards to his hands. Santorum has both hands in his back pockets, and while this is not a configuration you should hold for the duration of any speech or presentation, 20 to 30 second portions of this body language sprinkled throughout an appearance conveys an approachable and open personality. 

This variation of the Arms-Akimbo nonverbal is a good compromise between the prototypical ALPHA thumbs-backwards-hands-on-hips arms akimbo (see Confidence Secret # 14: High and Low Confidence Drivers: Arms Akimbo and Assertive Attitudes) and the BETA thumbs-forwards-hands-on-hips arms akimbo (see Dating & Romance Secret # 227: Are You Comfortable Around Your Ex?). They're difficult to see, but Santorum has his thumbs positioned forward and outside, while his fingers are inside of his pockets. This thumbs-forward is a BETA nonverbal. However, the elbows/arms sticking out (laterally) from the body is an ALPHA body language signal. Hands in the pockets is a BETA beacon. But his thumbs out of pockets shifts the sign to a bit more in the ALPHA direction. 

Rick Santorum's feet are an intermediate distance apart - which is also a good ALPHA-BETA mix in the right setting. Here however, I'd recommend the former Senator stand with his feet a bit more apart. For a Presidential Candidate, his foot-to-foot distance is a bit too demure. He'd look a bit more like Ronald Reagan or John Wayne with his feet a shoulder width apart. On the eve of the South Carolina Presidential Primary, Santorum needs a little more "Gipper".