Friday, April 27, 2012

Nonverbal Communications Analysis # 1715:
Jay Carney's Lip Purse
Bin Laden is Dead & General Motors is Alive

In this video, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, responds to CBS correspondent, Peter Maer, when he asked about the possible politicizing of the death of Osama Bin Laden. This was in response to Vice President Joe Biden's recent speech in New York City, when he said, "Bid Laden is Dead and General Motors is alive". Carney exhibits many body language tells in this video segment, however I want to highlight one in particular - the Lip Purse. These are seen at 0:03, 0:11 (don't confuse with "lip pout" seen at 0:12), 0:19 and 0:23 - 0:25. All except the last are very brief and some are evanescent enough to be classified as microexpressions.

Pursing of the lips is a signal of disagreement and consideration of alternative action. However the vast majority of the time, those displaying the lip purse will either very minimally voice their differing opinion (or say nothing at all) - compared to what they are really feeling-thinking. I call this "Iceberg Disagreement" - because most of it is hiding beneath surface.

When you see the lip purse, those using it also believe they're in a relative position of power. In this example, Jay Carney (and anyone else who displays it) believes he's the most powerful alpha in the room. If the president or the attorney general walked in - he wouldn't use this nonverbal. Betas don't use it unless they're in the vicinity of lesser betas - ergo a temporarily & relative alpha.

In a business setting, court room or when negotiating - if you see members of the "other team" using the lip purse, it's a body language signal of clandestine disagreement - and opinion/plan different than yours. They most definitely believe they hold the upper hand as well. Be prepared for the unexpected. You may not see it immediately, or it may not be obvious. If a person knows some strategic information of which you're not aware, and they wield power that you don't have - it's very likely that they intend to - and will act on it.

See also:

Analysis # 1515: Jay Carney's numerous microexpressions and subtle displays of contempt