Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis #1843:
United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice
in Response to Syrian Government's Houla Massacre

Ms. Rice is a strong and well-spoken leader. Although she is both petite (1.60 M or 5'3") and attractive, she projects a presence and strength far greater than her stature or looks typically afford in our male chauvinistic World. One not-so-obvious reason for this is her nonverbal communication skills. Note at the very beginning of the video, and again during the 4:22 - 4:33 segments, when the camera focus is wide, Ms. Rice is standing with her feet approximately shoulder width apart (we can tell she stands like this throughout the press conference if we look at her shoulder height compared with the backdrop - note how this doesn't change - if she stood with her feet together she would appear taller). Too many female (and male) "leaders" stand with their feet very close together. While this feet-together stance does project femininity, and there are times Susan may very well want to stand in such a configuration, in many contexts it projects lack of confidence, low levels of assertiveness, diminished power and even acquiescence. Delivering a speech or press conference, particularly at the U.N., certainly is not a time to look demure. Woman in most cultures are not used to standing in such a manner by social convention. Thus their unconsciousness's directs them most times to stand with their feet together. Obviously, standing with feet too far apart projects the wrong signals too - and this body language is certainly not advocated either. Positioning the feet a shoulder's width apart projects the right level of assertiveness, power and confidence that any leader, male or female should stand when in such a prominent leadership role. Despite standing with feet apart, one critique offered here to Ms. Rice - is not too stand with her toes pointed inwards. This is an additional layer of nuance to look for when dissecting and quantifying the confidence of others. Note that at the 4:30 time-mark, she re-adjusts her right foot and rotates it outward - simultaneously dialing up her assertiveness. It is very important to emphasize that these positions of the legs & feet not only appear more confident, assertive, powerful, etc. to anyone watching - they also will literally change brain chemistry and physiology such that these emotions will truly be increased. This will subsequently be reflected in one's voice, word choice, fluidity of thought and action.

Another tool used by Ms. Rice in this press conference is a lectern with an open design, utilizing a thin central beam. This affords us a full view of the Ambassador. We trust someone when we can see more of them. Thus the open-lectern is a rapport building tool that all leaders - corporate or government - male or female - short or tall should use. The less we can visualize - the less we trust. Very few lecterns are designed with a person of short stature in mind.  Even if Miss Rice were a 1.91 M (6'3") man, an open lectern would still be a very wise idea - but being so petite, this also allows her to control her environment in a way that a tradition wide lectern does not. She is building rapport, sending signals of openness and honesty by this simple but crucial detail.

Secret # 903: The More I see of You .... Plexiglass Podiums

Secret # 33: Transparency in Words and Actions

Ambassador Rice does use the traditional index finger (aka forefinger) point. She should avoid using this body language gesture as virtually all cultures find it offensive. The forefinger point is a rapport destroyer. A much better alternative is to point with loose fingers (not fully extended), palm pointed upwards, elbow bent (arm not fully extended either). This mode of pointing engenders a much more cooperative and nonthreatening feeling while still projecting confidence and authority.

Secret # 1224: Two-Handed Index Finger Point

Secret # 1652: Crude Oil, Speculators and Counting with Thumb First

Analysis # 1705: Francois Hollande & the French Presidential Election - The Pistol Steeple and Emotional Dissonance

Secret # 1233: Putin's Pointing Pen 

Analysis # 793: The Index Finger Point - A Rare Exception

Although it is difficult to see throughout most of the video, Susan Rice commits several hand to hand touches in front of her central lower chest & upper abdomen. While some very brief uses of a low steeple would be helpful here to project power and authority, they should be deliberately choreographed and used only for a second or two during particularly important statements. Otherwise, the conventional steeple can backfire and send signals of arrogance. I don't believe Ms. Rice committed this nonverbal faux pax here, although again, it is difficult to see because of the tight camera angle. She also would be well advised to not touch the opposite hand or commit brief self "hand-holds" that so many people do when speaking (watch almost any news reporter for both this bad body language blunder as well as the dramatic over-use of the conventional low steeple).

At the 5:21 Mark, just after an audience/press member asks Ms. Rice, "Was there any country that immediately dismissed the idea of sanctions, or do you see an opening for discussion there?", she exhibited a prolonged bilateral blink (indicating a desire to block the subject from her mind - and there of are indeed diplomatic road blocks here), a looking away (at 5:22 - a similar emotional tone and cause as the prolonged blink) and a more than moderate contempt nonverbal (5:22 - 5:23). Susan Rice has strong contempt to countries (and leaders) that are blocking the effectiveness of any sanctions (a' la Vladimir Putin).

The Ambassador uses the basketball steeple and the palms up gestures very well - much better than the vast majority of speakers/politicians/leaders in any given venue. This gives her confidence and connects her in both an intellectual and especially an emotional manner with her audience - even the small minority who may disagree with her. In short, although not perfect, Susan Rice's body language is very good and sends signals of strong leadership as it also aides dramatically to build rapport and consensus.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1841:
Disgust in Response to Rep. Barney Frank's "Hoodie" Joke

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) spoke at the Graduation ceremony Sunday at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Hubie Jones, a civil rights pioneer was also honored at the ceremony and Rep. Frank made a joke which many in the audience found offensive. In an obvious reference to Trayvon Martin, Frank joked that, "... and Hubie, I think you now have a hoodie you can wear and no one will shoot at ya ..."

One of the students included in the news video (above) interviewed after the ceremony displayed multiple excellent examples of body language tells of disgust as she also vocalized her opinions of Barney Frank's joke (0:54, 0:55, 0:57 - 0:59 and 1:00 - 1:01). Particular nonverbal facial signals of disgust (most, but not all of which are seen in this example) include: wrinkles (muscular contraction) on the bridge of the nose, accentuated and deepening nasal-labial furrows on the side of the nose, protruding of the lower lip, raising of the upper lip with (+/-) protrusion, tightening of the area between the upper lip and nose (the "mustache area"), flaring of the nostrils, lowering of the eyebrows, crow's feet formation/accentuation on the lateral sides of the eyes, dynamic chin wrinkling and a relaxed forehead.

See also:

Secret # 271: Disgust with very Little Mouth Component

Secret # 1496: Tiger Woods' Disgust and Biofeedback

Secret # 273: Anger and Disgust in Azerbaijan

Secret # 925: Liam Hemsworth's Disgust and Anger

Secret # 72 & 73: Christine Lagarde's Disgust and Incredulity

Analysis # 1548: Trayvon Martin's Death - George Zimmerman and his First Court Appearance

Analysis # 1491: Barack Obama on Trayvon Martin "If I Had a Son, He'd Look Like Trayvon"

Analysis # 1696: George Zimmerman's Testimony - Fear, Incredulity, Regret & Contempt


Monday, May 28, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1840:
Brian Banks and The Innocence Project -
Auditory Recall, Contempt, Self-doubt and Syntax

In 2003, as a sixteen-year old, Brian Banks was falsely accused of raping a classmate. Under his attorney's advice, he plead "No Contest" to rape charges rather risk a trial - and ended up spending more than five years in prison and the remainder of the time under parole as a registered sex offender with an ankle tracking bracelet. After his former accuser contacted him via Facebook and with assistance from The Innocence Project, he was able to prove he never committed the crime and this past Thursday - his conviction was overturned and he was exonerated.

There are many body language tells in this video, but a few in particular are worth noting. At multiple times during this interview, Banks eyes move very quickly (saccades) in a quick darting motion directly to his left. While not 100% reliable, in a relatively high percentage of right-handed people, a saccade straight to the left indicates an auditory recall (in these examples they are the spoken word, either something he or someone else said, e.g. his past attorney - however, the recall of other sounds such as music, etc. may also display this nonverbal epiphenomenon). Examples of his eyes moving in this manner are seen at 1:42, 2:29, 2:42, 2:52, 2:54, 4:00, 4:02, and 4:08.
There are other times when Brian Banks looks down-to-his-left (most notably at 1:22-23, 1:42, 2:52, 2:53, 3:32, 4:00, 4:02 and 4:13). Once again, while not 100% of the time, with most right-handed people, saccades in this down-left direction indicate internal dialog, syntax and word-thought-sentence construction. There are some occasions when it appears he looks both straight left and down-to-his-left as well.

At three times in this interview, Brian Banks gave both subtle and microexpression examples of contempt. These are seen at 1:58, 2:00 and 4:15. These particular displays appear as a trace amount of a one-sided smile and may also appear as a unilateral snarl. Tightening of the "mustache area" between the upper lip and nose occurs and often co-exists with one nostril flaring. Contempt is a very specific emotion where a person places another person or group beneath him. It is also possible to have self-contempt.

Secret # 457: A Contempt Amplifier

Analysis # 1824: Mexican Candidate Natalia Juarez - Subtle Contempt

Analysis # 1816: Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Contempt & Mary Richardson Kennedy's Social Smile

At the 3:25 mark, Mr. Banks gives an auditory "whewww" exhale with a co-existing puffing of the cheeks (aka the "puffer fish"). This highly specific verbal-nonverbal cluster can occur just after (indicating relief with usually a quicker exhale - with more relaxed lips) or just before (typically a slower exhale with tighter lip configuration indicating fear and anxiety) a major stressful event. In this case, Brian was re-living the psychological relief that after his accuser contacted him, it allowed him to clear his name.

Secret # 53: Charlie Rangel's Puffer Fish

Secret # 1122: Tiger, Pebble Beach and the Puffer Fish
A final interesting body language tell is seen near the end of this interview. Although I'm sure that most would eventually desire to (and see the wisdom of) arriving at a point where we would no longer harbor anger towards our false accusers which Mr. Banks speaks about, his shoulder shrug at the 3:59 mark when he says, "... No, I'm not angry ..." shows us that he doubts his own words. He wants to get to this emotional mindset, and he's on his way - but he is not fully there yet. He still harbors anger - and who could blame him?

Analysis # 1818: Political Correctness, a Partial Emblematic Slip and at a Falcon, Colorado Elementary School


Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1834:
Chelsea FC vs. Bayern Munich and the G8

The above image, and the higher resolution section from it seen below, was taken on 19 May 2012 at the G8 Summit at Camp David, Maryland. These World leaders are watching the penalty shootout (tied 1-1 in regulation) in the final match of the 2012 Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Championship between the London-based Chelsea Football Club vs. the favored FC Bayern Munich. Contrasting their body language and the look on their respective countries leaders' faces tells the whole story. With his arms & hands lifted high, the U.K.'s Prime Minister David Cameron expresses vicarious fiero at Chelsea's 4-3 shootout win. Angela Merkel's normally hyper-expressive face displays more subtle body language in this photo. Her eyelids are partially closed in a particular configuration and in this cluster-context are indicative of subtle anger (think of Clint Eastwood in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"). Unlike the partial closure which accompanies a sincere smile, with this anger nonverbal, there are no dynamic, concave-up furrows seen in her lower lids.

Interestingly, Barack Obama, standing between Cameron and Merkel, is both the leader of this G8 Summit and also friends with David. While his obvious vocalization shows his partiality to Chelsea FC - we can see he's experiencing emotional dissonance - for his hands are self-restrained behind his back as his subconscious attempts to maintain some level of neutrality so as not to offend Angela.

See also:

Analysis # 351: Some Subtle and some not-so-subtle signs of anxiety, discomfort, anger, fear, etc.

Analysis # 1696: George Zimmerman's Testimony - Fear, Incredulity, Regret & Contempt

Analysis # 1211: Tiger's Eyes - Subtle Signal but Severe Anger

Secret # 405: Carli Bruni's Dagger Eyes

Secret # 353: Brad Pitt's Smiling Eyes - Sincere and Insincere Smiles


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Nonverbal Analysis # 1836:
Boston Ousts Philly and the Origin of the "High Five"

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett give each other a "High Five" in last night's game as Brandon Bass looks on. The Boston Celtics went on to beat the Philadelphia 76ers in the seventh game of the series to advance to the Eastern conference finals against the Miami Heat. The origin of the "High Five" nonverbal dates back to the final game of the regular season in 1977 when Los Angeles Dodger Dusty Baker hit his 30th home run off of Houston's J.R. Richard. His team mate, Glenn Burke ran up to congratulate him and lifted his hand high in the air. Baker did the same with his and met Burke's in a slap - and the high five was born. Most, but not all, body language in which the arms & hands are lifted high, particularly suddenly - are signals positive emotions.

See also:

Body Language at the FIFA World Cup - Fiero After Accomplishment

Secret # 1511: Hands Held High, Fiero & Oosthuizen - An Albatross at the Masters

Fiero after Accomplishment


Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1835:
Dario Franchitti Wins His Third Indianapolis 500 -
His Disingenuous "Thank You"

Dario Franchitti won his third Indianapolis 500 today. During an emotional interview after the race, he speaks of his friend Dan Wheldon - last year's winner who perished this past October in the IZOD IndyCar World Championship at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This video is loaded with body language, however there's one tell in particular that should catch your attention. At the 0:43 mark, just as Franchitti finishes saying, "... thank you to this Target team ...", he displays an nonverbal classic "ear screw" with his left index finger in his left ear canal as he looks down to his right. This ear screw is a clear signal that this particular "thank you" is insincere, and he's discontented with someone on the "Target team" or the team as whole. Although we cannot see his eyes, his head & neck move down and to his right. It would be highly unusual if his eyes were also not gazing in this same direction. Looking down and to one's right (particularly for the right-handed) is an extremely common saccade during negative emotional moments.

See also:

Secrets # 394 & 496: Rick Perry's Nonverbal Mistakes in Iowa

Secret # 199: When a Lie is Told, Heard or Visualized by Vladimir's Eye

Secret # 29: Eye Rub When Someone Else is Speaking - Angela Doubts Vladimir


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1834:
Signals of Emotional Processing & Emotional Overwhelm

Sammie Hicks is a ten year old girl who lost her hearing in both ears as a toddler. Recently she underwent a cochlear implant which has allowed her to hear in a near-normal capacity. This video shows the moment when the implant was switched-on and her body language-emotional response immediately afterwards. Her tears are met with a sudden mouth covering and eye covering - first to a lesser degree and then more dramatically. When people experience or witness something dramatically good or ill, it takes a while to emotionally process this new information. This is often nonverbally expressed with mouth and bilateral eye covering (a variation of a Manipulator, Adaptor or Pacifier aka MAP). In Sammie's case this is experienced directly, but it can be experienced secondarily via empathy. In fact, when you watched/listened to video for the first time you probably covered your mouth in a similar fashion, with your eyes tearing-up, contracted your central forehead, tilted your head/neck to one side and touched your upper chest/neck with your dominant hand - all clustered signals of strong empathy.

See also:

Secret # 1212: Sudden Mouth Covering

Secret # 221: Spontaneous Mouth Covering & Empathy


Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1829:
Dara Torres Interview with Piers Morgan - Embarrassment,
Visual Recall, Sexual Anticipation Lip Biting &
Sincerity Quotients

Olympic Swimming Legend Dara Torres was recently interviewed by CNN's Piers Morgan. Dara gives some fantastic body language tells throughout this video. At multiple times, particularly during the second half of this segment, she is visually recalling very specific events and people - as Morgan puts her on the spot. He asks her if, given the choice, would she rather have a gold medal in the upcoming London Olympics or to re-live the best sex of her life. She visually (and emotionally) recalls several specific memories in the next few moments, as anyone would when honestly considering such a question. We can be sure she is visually recalling these memories because she very briefly looks up to her left. In a high percentage of times, right-handed people will look up to their left when visually-recalling an image, person, event, etc. Although it's not absolute, in some people this occurs greater than 95% of the time. Dara looks in this quadrant on multiple occasions when recalling specific events and people as Piers pushes, prods and pokes (most notably at 1:34, 1:45, 1:58, 2:04, 2:08, 2:26, 2:30, 2:32, 2:34).

When Morgan asks Torres, "... did you have your eyes on anybody special? after ... say you win gold? ..." she bites her bottom lip (at the 2:23 mark). In this nonverbal-verbal cluster-context, lip biting is highly consistent with sexual anticipation. We now know she is interested in someone in particular.

It is easy for anyone to see Dara's prolonged (facial) blushing when Piers confronts her with his sexual questions. The additional palmar touching of both sides of her face (1:37) is very congruent with embarrassment. This fact that the palms of her hands are contacting her face is extremely indicative of a high level of sincerity.

Dara Torres not only is an amazing athlete and a personification of the fountain of youth  - her bilateral full palmar touch, blushing, lip biting and visual recall when asked about past events all indicate a Sincerity Quotient that is very high. What's your sincerity quotient?

See also:

Analysis # 1516: Ozzie Guillen Apology, his "Sincerity Quotient" & Fidel Castro

Analysis # 1499: Bill Clinton's Empathy for Eric Fehrnstrom and Mitt Romney - What's Your Sincerity Quotient?

Analysis # 1103: Jeremy Lin's Body Language - Basketball's New Sincerity Quotient Standard


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1833:
Costa Concordia & Crisis Management
Salvaging a Ship and Public Relations

The President of Titan Salvage, Rich Habib, is seen on this video Clip during 0:23 - 0:38 discussing the salvage operations of the Cruise Ship, Costa Concordia. If you were Titan Salvage's (or its parent corporation, Crowley Maritime) Chief Communications Officer or the firm/person who manage their public relations - how would you evaluate this segment? If you could, would you want a "do-over"? What emotions are displayed by Habib's arm/hand positions? His forehead? His mouth? His head movements? His eyes? What are your conclusions as to what Mr. Habib was thinking-feeling during this video segment of the press conference? Would you pick him to serve on your jury?


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1824:
Mexican Political Candidate Natalia Juarez -
Subtle Contempt

Natalia Juarez is a philosophy professor at the University of Guadalajara. She's also running for a congressional seat in the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PDR). A couple of weeks ago she decided to shake up the campaign and has posed in some controversial billboards. In one she appears topless with six other women, with breasts partially covered and left arms/hands raised in fists. The caption on the billboard reads, "I dare you to build a new project for a nation with no prejudices."

Guadalajara - the second largest in Mexico, is a politically conservative city, however Ms. Juarez, and the PDR are not. During the 0:55 - 1:17 segment of the above video, when Natalia says, "Conservative people are never going to vote for me, never! Even if I dressed as a nun and carried a rosary and said that my party was going to give away Bibles and rosaries, they wouldn't. Conservatives area never going to vote for me." - she displays a subtle level of contempt on the right side of her face.

Contempt is a very specific emotion wherein we place another person or group beneath us. You believe them to be inferior to you. It is a very powerful and damaging emotion. Dr. John Gottman has shown that the display of contempt is the number one predictor of relationship failure. It is so powerful an emotion that it inhibits the human immune system - and thus the recipient of contempt will even suffer increased rates of infection and disease.

The Body language of contempt are often confused with subtle or partial (unilateral) smiles - but are more accurately are characterized as a snarl. Nostril dilation often accompanies this along with mid-face tension in the "mustache area" and upper lip. The upper lip is raised and the lower lip may protrude. While the forehead is relaxed, there often is wrinkling (crow's feet) on the same side of the face as the snarl. Chin wrinkling may also be displayed. The nasal-labial furrow on the side of the nose is often pronounced along with wrinkling on the bridge of the nose.

While most everyone can identify dramatic nonverbal of emotion, I'm continually amazed at the percentage of learned, traveled, educated and accomplished people who have significant difficulty recognizing moderate, let alone subtle examples of emotions.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1822:
President Obama's Stand on Same-Sex Marriage -
Is he Sincere?

video platform video management video solutions video player

Ten days ago, during an interview with ABC's Good Morning America's Robin Roberts, U.S. President Barack Obama made an open declaration in support of same-sex marriage. Is he sincere? - Or is the President using this issue as a political tool during an election year? The vast majority of people answer this question based on their political bias. If this was another issue, and this were another man/woman - and you were sitting across the table from him during a crucial negotiation, could you tell if he was bluffing? If you were a defense attorney, and your client (the defendant) was gay, and you were selecting a jury (voir dire) - would you pick him to serve on the jury? What OBJECTIVITY TOOLS do you have at your disposal? 

Body language is a tool to enhance your objectivity when, as human beings, we are all inherently biased.

What does the President's head position tell you in this video?

What about the direction of his eye movements?

Did his forehead contractions suggest sincerity or insincerity?

What did his rate of blinking tell you?

Are his hand gestures (illustrators) consistent with deception or truth?

What MAPs (Manipulators, Adaptors, Pacifiers) did you spot?

What does the President's foot/leg position tell you?

If you were the President's body language/speech coach, what would you advise him to change in this video if he had a "do-over"?

Do you allow your personal biases to color your judgment as to guilt vs. innocence, sincerity vs. insincerity or truth vs. deception? OF COURSE YOU DO. The question is what are you doing to become more objective?

Fifty-five to Eighty percent of all direct human communication is Nonverbal. If you're not skilled in both the nuance of interpretation body language - as well as how you present yourself, moment to moment, in context - then you're placing yourself at a massive disadvantage. It's as if you would put ear plugs in - and pretend that you're listening.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Nonverbal Analysis # 1820:
What Causes David Beckham's Greater Anxiety -
Barack Obama Teasing Him About His Age or His Underwear?

It has long been a tradition that U.S. Presidents honor sports champions and teams - and Barack Obama is no exception. In this video he honors the Los Angeles Galaxy and their senior footballer, David Beckham

Notice that when the President pokes fun at Beckham's age, David reaches up with his left hand and scratches the right side of his face with his thumb. There is no similar body language display a moment later when Obama teases him about selling & posing in his underwear

The number one reason people touch their faces is anxiety. Not a rash, not an allergy or an errant nasal hair - but anxiety. In body language parlance, this is but one example of a MAP (Manipulators, Adaptors or Pacifiers). Beckham, despite being one of the most recognizable and photographed athletes in the World - and very accustomed to high profile appearances with his superstar wife, Victoria Adams (aka Posh Spice) - is of course, still human. Moreover, Beckham reached across his body with the opposite hand/arm - thus exhibiting a momentary blocking nonverbal, signaling to us some insecurity about his advancing age.

Secret # 1697: George Zimmerman in Shackles - How this Alters His Body Language and Our Perception of His Guilt or Innocence

Secret # 126: Anxiety Like Beckham

Secret # 1522: False Mastication in Court - Alicia DeBolt and Adam Longoria

Secret # 199: When a Lie is Told, Heard or Visualized by ... Vladimir's Eye


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1818:
Political Correctness, a Partial Emblematic Slip
at a Falcon, Colorado Elementary School

A second grader from Falcon, Colorado as part of a class project, was assigned to portray the figure of Martin Luther King Jr. When Sean King showed up at school with his face painted black, trouble ensued. He was asked to wash the paint off, but he and his parents refused. This nonverbal analysis concentrates on in that of Stephanie Meredith, a school district Spokeswoman (see during 0:47 to 0:54).

Ms. Meredith said, "When other students are offended by something, it's really the Principal's role to make sure that the educational environment is safe for all the students." She may believe this statement to be valid - in general - but in this specific case she does not agree with the action of the school principal. She is playing the good soldier. 

Note that at several times Ms. Meredith shrugged with her right shoulder (vertical moving up and down) several times in this short clip (her left shoulder is moving - but it's moving laterally as her head and upper body moves back and forth). This is a beautiful body language example of a "Partial Emblematic Slip" wherein this partial (unilateral) shrug indicates doubt of the spokeswoman's own words. When there is a disparity between the spoken word and the nonverbal signals - the body language is always correctly - reflecting the true emotions-thoughts.

Thought experiment: Change the setting here a bit and suppose for a minute that you were the chief negotiator representing company A, and Ms. Meredith was the head negotiator for corporation B. If she exhibited similar body language as the nonverbals she displayed in this video - you would be sure she was bluffing.



Friday, May 18, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1815:
California Governor Jerry Brown's recent
YouTube address - Taxes, Cuts and State Budget

California Governor Jerry Brown recently posted a video on YouTube explaining to the people of the State his feelings-opinions regarding increased taxes and spending cuts in order to bring the State Budget under control. While Governor Brown's sincerity quotient is relatively high, if his goal is to influence to voters in California, there are certainly several major modifications he should have made to this speech-announcement & choreography-filming. 

At no time do we ever see the Governor's right hand. The less we can see of a person, the less we trust them, ergo they have diminished capacity to develop rapport and influence us. This body language maxim is particularly true of the hands. By keeping his right hand-arm hidden during the entire video, Brown is destroying rapport. It would have been much better if no table or desk were used at all. The symbolism of sitting behind a desk doesn't work when one is trying to build a shared viewpoint and trust - rather it's destructive. If one feels the need to sit at a table-desk, it should be glassed-topped with thin legs so that much more of the person is visible. 

Brown hardly even used any hand gestures during this speech-announcement. An illustrator is a term to describe the natural hand-arm movements used in speech to visually underline, punctuate and emphasize words and phrases. Most of the time they should not elevate above the shoulders, below the waist and should only extend a couple inches wider than the width of ones' shoulders. Beware of the tendency of haphazard movements some people make when they're nervous or inexperienced. Unnatural looking gestures or lack of (or suddenly diminished) hand-arm gestures (illustrators) are often consistent with deception. When used in harmony with the spoken word, they can serve to increase the influence of the speaker and the recall of the listener. Displayed properly, illustrators build rapport - but many people use them too much, too little or in a counterproductive manner. Brown never used his right hand and his left was only used briefly in a rapport-destroying palms-down gesture towards the end of the video. Note also when he used this over-authoritarian body language - the tension displayed in his left hand was mirrored on his face. 

The Governor should have his jacket unbuttoned as well.  A closed jacket in this context betrays a closed mind. A beige tie is never wields power, authority or leadership. Fashion aside, his tie should have been more brightly colored and vibrant - but not distracting. Beige equals blaaah. Jerry Brown needs to have his shirts tailored as well. The redundant fabric seen between his tie and jacket is a visual-metaphor for weakness and disorganization.

The former Attorney General would have been better advised to have been standing with nothing in front of him while filming this video. The second best scenario would have to been him seated on a chair (not a high stool, as seen so often in debates) with no table present, leaning slightly forward and the bottoms of both feet on the floor. The multicolored background is also visually distracting.

I cannot be 100% sure (only 99 +% sure), but it looks as if Jerry Brown has had botox treatments to his forehead musculature. His forehead is particularly under-expressive. The forehead and eyebrows are certainly needed to display the full gamut of human emotions. Paralyzing this region interferes with our ability to communicate our thoughts and feelings and leaves others with watered-down and inanimate experience.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1816:
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Contempt &
Mary Richardson Kennedy's Social Smile

In this photo of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his late Wife, Mary Richardson Kennedy, neither of them is wearing a sincere smile. While Mary displays a good social smile, Robert Kennedy Jr.'s face is highly consistent with contempt. We cannot say for whom this emotion is directed. Regardless of what he may have said immediately after or before this image was taken, whenever the body language and the verbal language are in disagreement, the nonverbal is always indicative of what the emotional brain is feeling-thinking.

Analysis # 353: Brad Pitt's Smiling Eyes - Sincere & Insincere Smiles


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1812:
Jamie Dimon on JPMorgan Chase's $2 Billion Loss
The Day After

In this video from Meet The Press, JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon responds to his company's $2 Billion loss in derivative-related trading on the day after the announcement. Many admire Mr. Dimon's straight forward and direct mea culpa. He used descriptors such as, "stupid", an "egregious error", " we took far too much risk", "badly vetted", "badly monitored", "it never should have happened", etc. to describe his company's mistakes. From a body language analysis standpoint, some interesting changes are noted vs. the previous post - which was from an interview recorded on the day before the announcement (see Analysis # 1811: Jamie Dimon - The Day Before Announcement)

During the vast majority of this segment, Mr. Dimon's central forehead was contracted. When this nonverbal is seen with a frown (even a subtle one) or neutral mouth, it's a highly specific tell for emotional or physical pain. Mr. Dimon is emotionally distraught over this issue. He can be experiencing such emotional pain because JPMorgan Chase committed the mistakes - or because he's being scrutinized in such a public manner - or both.
Jamie Dimon should not keep his fingers interlaced in front of him as many do during such interviews. Most people without any nonverbal training will interpret this as a patronizing - certainly a negative message. However, this common hand configuration actually represents anxiety and a closed-off, defensive mindset. Dimon is also seated with his back very straight, perpendicular to the floor. It would better serve him to lean slightly forward. This positioning lends itself to a more engaged and open emotional tone - while simultaneously allowing for a more naturally opened hand-arm positioning.

Mr. Dimon would also be well advised to avoid the pinch-point (down) gesture as well as index finger (forefinger) conventional pointing. Tension in the hands tends to increased mid-facial tension and pointing is universally negatively received. These are also some of many palm-down gestures which should not be used in scenarios where one is trying to explain errors and/or build trust-rapport. Palm down gestures and most varieties of pointing are overly-alpha, and in this (and most) contexts, they will come across as patronizing, condescending and inflammatory.

The "Conventional Steeple" which Dimon uses during 1:19 - 1:23 segment is another gesture which is a rapport destroyer. While this variety of steeple does send signals of confidence and authority - it is nearly always over-used (usually anything more than a second or two is too much) and backfires. It must be used at very specific times if at all - almost choreographed. Most people are better off never attempting it.

Secret # 277: The Conventional Steeple - Use it on Rare Occasions and in Small Doses

Mr. Dimon displays a variation of a "Duping Delight" at the 1:21 mark where he displays a subtle partial smile when he said, " fact, the portfolio just had an unrealized gain of more than $8 billion ..." Within the context of trying to admit his company's wrong doing and sloppy work, he also expressed this very positive financial windfall - and like anyone would be, he's proud of himself.
An interesting and somewhat subtle display of anxiety is seen expressed at the 0:35 second mark and again at 1:08 when Dimon sniffs. Another more obvious and related anxiety tell is seen at the 0:31 mark when he takes a heavy swallow.

From a nonverbal analysis view, Jamie Dimon has significant emotion pain and anxiety. In the midst of crisis management, he gets better grades than most. However, there is still room for significant body language improvement - which would translate into increased public (and governmental) empathy for both him and JPMorgan Chase.

Mr. Dimon - before you testify before Congress, call me.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1811:
Jamie Dimon - the Day Before Announcement of
JPMorgan Chase's $2 Billion Loss

This interview segment of JPMorgan Chase's President & CEO, Jamie Dimon was made on Wednesday 9 May 2012 - the day prior to his announcement of the largest U.S. bank losing approximately $2 Billion in derivative-related trading. In the next two days, Dimon called this a, "sloppy", "stupid" and a "terrible, egregious mistake".

Dimon's "pre-announcement" body language in this video is worth noting. Throughout this segment the CEO displays a conventional steeple. While this variation of body language does transmit high confidence - it should only be used in small doses and on very specific occasions. The vast majorities of the times people over-use the conventional steeple and therefore send excessively-alpha signals at best - but unfortunately and more commonly emotions of arrogance and condescension are transmitted.

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

Secret # 277: The Conventional Steeple - Use it on Rare Occasions & in Small Doses

Secret # 901: The Over-Used Steeple - Backfire in Berlin

Another over-alpha configuration Mr. Dimon has adopted is the seated-crotch display. This is also a classic dominance nonverbal. While I do think he's well advised to keep the bottoms of both feet on the floor, sitting with his legs not quite so widely spread - e.g., at a 30-40 degree angle rather than the approximately 70 degrees (about as wide as his chair allows) he displays throughout this segment - sends feelings of confidence without the hyper-alpha messages the wider crotch display emits. The goal is to be and look confident, without being excessive.

Although obviously not the context here, the seated crotch display can also be a signal of sexual attraction. This nonverbal may displayed by females, however it is much more common in males.

Secret # 401: Male Dominance Display - Faux pas

Secret # 593: Projecting and Detecting Confidence

Another body language that Jamie Dimon should adopt is the simple act of leaning & sitting slightly forward on his chair. Resting one's back against a chair can send messages of nervousness, disengagement, aloofness and arrogance (depending on the other body language with which it is clustered). The audience (even an audience of one) will easily sense this and thus sitting & leaning slightly forward aides in building rapport and engenders a positive feedback loop of engagement-confident-comfort-sincerity.

Secret # 1139: How Destroy Rapport

Analysis # 1650: Ozzie Guillen Gets Suspended by Miami Marlins Team President

Mr. Dimon was named to Time Magazine's World's Most 100 influential people for four of the last six years. It's natural for any person to appear overly dominant in such a setting. What's much more challenging is to be assertive and dominant without having it backfire - particularly when you're in crisis mode.

Mr. Dimon - before you testify before Congress, call me.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1806:
Hot, Homonyms, Clusters & Context -
Interpreting Body Language

People often ask what emotions/thoughts any number of specific nonverbal signals indicate. This is not always a straight forward answer. Many (but not all) body language signs have significantly different meanings depending on the other nonverbals with which they're clustered. A "Cluster" is two or more body language configurations seen simultaneously or within a very short time.

In a written & spoken language, a "Homonym" is one of a group words that is spelled the same and pronounced the same - and yet has different meanings. We can call Nora Jones "hot", a red pepper can also be "hot" and it's "hot" outside if the temperature reaches 105 degrees. A parallel phenomenon is seen in Nonverbal communication. A Subtle variation or an identical single body language symbol can have completely different meanings depending on the setting - or the other "words" in the nonverbal sentence. 

There are many examples of these Nonverbal Homonyms. One common case in point is lip biting. Biting one's own lip may have sexual & flirtatious implications - but it also may indicate anxiety, fear, intense physical activity or deep thought. Noting the other nonverbals gives context and meaning.

See also:

Secret # 411: Lip Biting with Intense Physical Activity

Secret # 531: Sarkozy's Mouth Tells Us What He's Feeling

Secret # 30: Lip Biting on a Defensive Tackle

Secret # 813: Ask Osama Bin Laden Appeasement

Secret # 351: Never Let 'em See You Sweat