Sunday, April 8, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1510:
Handshakes, Statesmanship and Dominance -
Manmohan Singh & Asif Ali Zardari

President Zardari, on the left side of this image, is in the best position for a leader to be photographed. Try to place yourself similarly for any photo ops. The reason for this is simple - yet nonverbally powerful. With a traditional handshake, Zardari's hand will be closer to the camera and the audience - thus he will appear more dominant. Additionally, his right hand is on top of Prime Minister Singh's (with his palm roughly parallel to the floor as opposed to the traditional perpendicular and configuration) - further raising his "dominance Quotient". Singh, of course, tries to compensate for his own less dominant body and hand positions by placing his left hand on top of his Pakistani counterpart - in a body language maneuver of one-upmanship.  Zardari further counters Singh by placing his left hand on top of Singh's. If his objective was to to appear more dominant (as with all heads-of-state whom are photographed on such occasions), a significantly superior nonverbal counter-move for the Pakistani leader would have been for him to place his left hand on Singh's right shoulder. 

However, if your goal is to bond and develop rapport - as it of course should be most often - the "photo op handshake rules of dominance" very often do not apply. It is a tricky thing for a leader to try to appear to his/her people and the World as more dominant - and yet also to build rapport and solve big problems. There ARE solutions to this conundrum though ....

See also:

Secret # 1131: Romney's Handshake, Santorum's Bicep's and Dominance

Secret # 379: Dominant Handshake Tendencies