Saturday, April 7, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1503:
The Conventional Steeple vs. The Basketball Steeple -
Seeking a Balance

Bill Burton, senior strategist for the super PAC, Priorities USA, is seen here in an interview discussing big oil money, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. At various times during this video, Mr. Burton uses both the conventional high steeple as well as the basketball steeple. 

The conventional steeple should be used very sparingly. For while it is true, that it can transmit emotions of confidence - it should only be displayed for a second or two. As deliberately as a surgeon wields a scalpel ... or a laser - this steeple variation should "dance" in unison with a particular word or phrase - not held there for long periods of time and/or dialog as if they were Super Man posing with his fists-closed, arms akimbo. Many use this nonverbal, without realizing it, as if they are using a wall brush to paint a fine portrait (e.g. Angela Merkel uses it excessively). It's wields sloppy results. It may make the SPEAKER feel like he's powerful, but a rapport builder it's not. It alienates much more often than it projects confidence. The conventional steeple is almost always overused and gives strong signals of arrogance and condescension. A few seconds too much at the wrong time and it will backfire. This is particularly true if the higher-held conventional steeple is used, but it's also true for lower-held positions. If you're TRULY in a position of power, confidence or leadership - this "body language version of wearing a muscle shirt" isn't needed.  This is much more than a metaphor though, for people who over-use the conventional steeple tend to also have strong narcissistic qualities.

A variation of the steeple that doesn't resemble it's over-alpha cousin, is known as the "Basketball Steeple". This is where the hands and fingers are held apart, fingers slightly curved, about the width of a basketball. Mr. Burton also displays this variety of the steeple in the video. This body language gesture sends signals and engenders feelings of confidence without arrogance - a combination of emotions that is far too rare.

See also: Secret # 375: Signals of Confidence, Non-Engagement and Defeat

See also: Secret # 493: Contrasting David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy - Alpha & Beta Behavior

See also: Secret # 901: The Over-used Steeple - Backfire in Berlin