Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1902:
The Queen Shakes Ex-IRA Leader, Martin McGuinness's hand

Queen Elizabeth shook Martin McGuinness's hand today. The Deputy Chief of Minister of Northern Ireland, the Sinn Féin was also an ex-IRA leader and this act (although choreographed) was of course, highly symbolic and very meaningful. But how could it have been even more meaningful?

It's difficult to find a copy of the English Royal's Etiquette Manual, and it may very well include leaving your gloves on during a handshake. However unless you're of royal blood, both men and women should ALWAYS remove their gloves during a handshake. To do otherwise is a body language signal of psychological distancing. Done correctly, pressing palm to palm (or even in the more traditional feminine finger grip as Elizabeth used) is such a strong nonverbal beacon of sincerity - that anyone advising the Queen, should have recommended that she break protocol and remove her glove as well. Touching another human being is a relatively rare moment, and the opportunity to build stronger rapport and demonstrate deep sincerity should not be squandered.