Thursday, January 19, 2012

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 919:
How Newt Stands Influences Voters

There are times when a presidential candidate should stand with his or her feet together .... but this is NOT one of them. Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich is seen here at a Town Hall meeting in Florence, South Carolina and while he's gesturing confidently with his hands, his feet position do NOT transmit confidence - ergo emotional dissonance is present and being conveyed here. South Carolina's Presidential Primary is Saturday, 21 January 2012.

Presidents and candidates for any head-of-state position should stand with their feet together at funerals, weddings, religious ceremonies, when they are former office holders - standing next to currently highly ranked elected leaders, visits with the Pope, Dalai Lama and other religious leaders, when attending ceremonies honoring those who have fallen in battle, during the Pledge of Allegiance/Star Spangled Banner (or another country's anthem), and perhaps a few other exceptions - otherwise, standing with one's legs and feet this close together conveys lower confidence. Shorter people have a tendency to do this - particularly when behind a lectern/podium, as they are attempting to be at their maximum height. What is rarely considered though, is how standing in this lower confidence formation will influence the manner in which one speaks - their word choice, tone, cadence, ability to recall information, etc. In short, a confident stance engenders true confidence in action and performance. Ideally, Mr. Gingrich and other males should stand with their feet a shoulder's width apart, while women should stand with their feet slightly closer together (about 85 - 90% their shoulders' width).

Thus, emotions causes us to adopt a specific body language consistent with the current specific feeling(s) - but what's just as true is, maintaining a nonverbal signal causes an emotion to begin and/or persist. Nonverbal communication works in both directions - what often gets very overlooked is that our bodies and faces are, among other things, control panels for our emotional states.