Monday, June 25, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1901:
Maria Sharapova's Anxiety

With her victory at Roland Garros, Maria Sharapova has regained the number one World tennis ranking (a position she has held four times before). She is as beautiful as any model, the highest paid female athlete on the planet, a savvy business woman and has now has the elusive career grand slam (only accomplished by five other women in the open era). Yet, like many people who have no apparent reason to be, she displays significant anxiety on camera.

Early in the video (0:09 - 0:11) when Mark Phillips asks, "Do you feel that you're hungry to achieve it still?" Sharapova reaches up with her left hand/arm to rub the opposite side of her neck (Then a few seconds later she persists with a similar gesture just below her right shoulder). This across-the-front blocking coupled with the MAP (manipulator, adaptor, pacifier) signals to us that the nature of this question has significant anxiety for Maria.

At 0:36 Sharapova suddenly displays another MAP - which is a beacon of verbal course correction - as she adjusts her hair/rubs behind her left ear with her left hand: "...So I think,....[here she changes her mind on what to say]....yeah,'s just one of those things where you try and believe in what you have - and hope that what you have is good enough to win"

The tennis star also can be seen in a similar configuration with her right hand to her right temporal-parietal region at 0:57 at the beginning of a question regarding comparisons to Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Steffi Graf - with respect to consistency in grand slam wins. Again, anxiety.

[Very demonstratively, during the 1:51 - 1:55 when Maria looks up to her right - visually constructing her future from the point-of-view of herself at seventeen (which is now her present and past). This body language (for the vast majority of right-handers) is highly consistent with sincerity and truth. Her words are highly congruent with her nonverbal displays. If you were picking a jury, you'd want a girl like Maria - at least based on this portion of the interview.]

All of the above referenced MAPs signal anxiety in Maria Sharapova. Again, she is extremely accomplished and has few obvious reasons for anxiety. As it often is the case, when a person is out of their element or for reasons which aren't visible to most - and many would doubt even exist - people at the top/in positions of power/alpha personalities have anxiety too. Being able to spot these moments allows us to know their Achilles heel and exploit it - or come to her aide - or perhaps back off - whatever and whenever we so choose in a highly nuanced fashion.

P.S. - Today during the first round of Wimbledon: Maria Sharapova def. Anastasia Rodionova of Australia 6-2, 6-3

See also:

Analysis # 1863: Sharapova's Lips of Anger

Analysis # 51: Dominance Display in a Couple - Sasha & Maria