Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2072:
Jay Carney's Lip Purse while NOT commenting on
Mitt Romney's Visits to the U.K., Israel and Poland

In this video, Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary, avoids commenting directly on the specifics of Mitt Romney's recent visits to the U.K., Israel and Poland - only in a very general way. While Mr. Carney did display two microexpressions of contempt at the 0:17 and 0:19 marks, there is another particularly interesting nonverbal displayed at the 0:39 second mark which should capture our interest - a mild-moderate lip purse.

Pursing of one's lips indicates that there is a disagreement occurring - here between Mr. Carney and what he thinks Mitt should have said/done compared to what Romney actually did. When is a lip purse present, there is a great disparity between what is being said and what is being thought (e.g. They may voice little or no disagreement, but they are thinking a much greater level of disagreement). It is also a signal that the purser has an alternative thought, plan, idea, etc. to what is being done, proposed, suggested by the other party - and that he believes his plan/idea is superior. A lip purser also believes he is a relative-alpha vs. whomever he is interacting with - thus he believes he has the power, resources, money to pull off his plan (People who perceive themselves to be relative betas don't display this body language). Moreover, he won't be sharing his idea with you - so get ready for an "end-run" and have your plan B (and plan C) ready.

In summary, a lip purse is a signal of clandestine disagreement and/or plans displayed from a relative alpha.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2070:
Missy Franklin's Reaction after
100 Backstroke Victory in London

This image of Missy Franklin was taken immediately after her victory in the 100 Meter Backstroke. The sudden touching of her forehead indicates disbelief. Her intellect believes she just won an Olympic Gold Medal, however Missy's emotional brain hasn't fully processed the event yet. This lag-effect, where additional processing time is required to fully comprehend what has transpired, is a very common phenomenon. It's an emotion which shares significant similarities with surprise (note her mouth configuration is agape, not quite as widely, but close to that of surprise). If we could see her eyelids, they too would be opened widely - again, almost identical to surprise. This emotional-processing (here it's obviously a good event, however it can be a bad one) if extreme enough, transitions into an emotional shock.

A similar (and more common) body language signal occurs with sudden mouth covering or the sides of the face/cheeks/temple region.

See also:

Analysis  # 221: Spontaneous Mouth Covering & Empathy

Analysis # 1212: Sudden Mouth Covering

Analysis # 871: Mouth Covering Candidate

Additionally, when the palm of the hand makes full contact - it is a very reliable nonverbal signal of sincerity. In the context of becoming an Olympic Champion, this is no wonder. In lesser situations however, surprise, emotional processing and emotional shock can be feigned and the palmar touch is a very good body language sign to watch for when detecting sincerity in such scenarios.


Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2051:
Mitt Romney regarding Campaign Finance Rules -
Near-Microexpression of Disgust

During this recent interview in Israel, Mitt Romney describes his feelings regarding an aspect of campaign finance rules with which he voices a strong disagreement. At the 0:24 - 0:25 mark, he displays a facial "near-microexpression" of disgust (expression here is of slightly longer duration than is classically defined for microexpression, 0.04 to 0.50 seconds). Note his mid-face tightening (mustache area) with both nostrils flaring and dynamic contraction on the bridge of his nose. His head/neck also retracts slightly as well as a concomitant partial closure of his eyelids, an increase in the "crow's feet" and lowering of his eyebrows. His nasal-labial furrow also becomes more pronounced. Since Mr. Romney's verbal and his nonverbal message are congruent, his sincerity quotient his high on this issue

When someone's words and body language are in disagreement however - always believe the body language.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2058:
DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's "False Contempt"
The Importance of "Norming"

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz is seen in this video clip on "Face the Nation". Upon initial observation, with her obvious bias to speak out the right side of her mouth in a significantly asymmetrical fashion, one may conclude Ms. Wasserman Schultz's is exhibiting a nonverbal of contempt. However, after reviewing multiple videos of the Congresswoman from Florida taken over many months, in different settings - as well as with both friendly and adversarial subject matter, it becomes obvious that such asymmetry is for her - normal. This is certainly not to imply that she doesn't experience or display contempt - yet this emotion and its body language manifestations are is more difficult to interpret on the Chairwoman because of what for her is a normal baseline behavior.

See also:

Analysis # 1163: The Importance of "Norming" in the Evaluation of Body Language


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2067:
Leryn Franco's Arms and Missed Opportunity

Leryn Franco, the Paraguayan model and Javelin thrower is shown here at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Within the context of sport, her hand/arm position is a classic body language emblem for defeat and/or missed opportunity. An "Emblem" is a nonverbal symbol, the meaning of which is well understood within a group, culture or region - and sometimes World-wide. Care must be taken when using or interpreting them however, for some emblems have completely different meanings in other regions & countries.

It is intriguing how similar this nonverbal resembles the body language displayed and required with prisoners of war and after being arrested. Although these are forced behaviors by the captors and police - Ms. Franco's behavior is subconscious. She finished 51st in Beijing. Good luck in London Leryn.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2064:
David Cameron & Boris Johnson - Wincing at Wimbledon

David Cameron and Boris Johnson have essentially identical nonverbal expressions as they watch Andy Murray in the recent Wimbledon final. This classic body language of both the U.K.'s Prime Minister and London's Mayor indicate they are feeling Pain and Fear-Empathy for Murray as they watch Murray lose in the fourth and final set to Roger Federer.

While often feigned, sincere empathy as exhibited above, is a very welcomed and all-too-rare quality to see in our leaders.

Good Luck at the Olympic Games Andy.

See also:

Analysis # 2052: Dialing Up Empathy and Sincerity - Mitt Romney & Barack Obama's Response to the Aurora, Colorado "Batman" Mass Shooting


Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2063:
Mitt Romney and Ed Miliband -
Under Used and Backfiring Uses of Hands

Mitt Romney has the very bad nonverbal habit of not using his hands enough or as well as many politicians with much less experience. This adds to his relative inability to develop rapport with the masses and detracts from what pollsters quantify as "likability". From a body language standpoint this is no surprise. It also makes a person "feel" less trustworthy. In fact, if a person suddenly stops using his hands/arms as illustrators during a part of a speech, conversation, deposition, testimony, jury selection, etc. - particularly when they were displayed before and after - this is highly consistent with elevated anxiety (since Mitt appears to have forgotten his host's name - note how he addresses him as "Mr. Leader" at the 0:01 mark), and depending on the other nonverbals, a possible indicator of deception. 

Mitt Romney chronically underuses his hands/arms. Many speech coaches from years past, with no scientific data would routinely give such advice based only on anecdote and personal bias. Certainly hand/arm illustrators can be over-used or inappropriately used too. Enter Ed Miliband ....

The leader of the United Kingdom's Labour Party, Ed Miliband, throughout much of the first portion of this video does his best Angela Merkel imitation and positions his hands in a prominent low and classic conventional steeple (see: Analysis #901: The Over-Used Steeple - Backfire in Berlin). While this MAP (manipulator, Adaptor, Pacifier) body language does project authority and power, it must be used judiciously. Most people over-use it (a' la the German Chancellor) and thus it backfires and sends signals of arrogance and condescension. It is best used as a scalpel and choreograph exactly when to display this nonverbal - at key moments in a speech, negotiation, conversation, etc.

See also:

Analysis # Mitt Romney's Response to Supreme Court's Decision on "Obamacare"

Analysis # 913: Low Confidence, Low Trust and Demure

Analysis # 1555: Ann Romney Hits it Back Over the Net to Hilary Rosen


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2062:
Mitt Romney in London
Speaking out the Side of His Mouth -
Anxiety-Insincerity or Worse

When Mitt Romney has anxiety or is insincere, he has a strong tendency to speak out of the right side of his mouth. This is an extremely common nonverbal tell and Mitt in particular needs some refining here. In this video, former Governor Romney is backpedaling away from earlier criticisms of the London Olympics. Indeed he feels emotional dissonance on this issue. Besides trying to dig his foot out of his mouth, this is also the first time that Romney is on foreign soil and viewed with international scrutiny - thus he's understandably a wee bit nervous.


Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2061:
David Cameron Defends London Olympics against
Mitt Romney's Remarks -
Alpha Dominance and Illustrators -
Matching Hands and Feet as Sincerity Amplifiers

In the above video, the Prime Minister of the U.K., David Cameron, exemplifies an assertive alpha-dominant illustrator with both hands. An illustrator is a body language term used to describe a nonverbal display which illustrates, emphasizes, animates, underlines, etc. the coexistent verbal message. The most common sited illustrators involve the hands/arms, however the facial illustrators are displayed just as frequently and even the rest of the body may contribute .... see below.

Mr. Cameron is left-handed, so it is important to note how he immediately begins his reply illustrating with a vertical left hand chop (as he shifts his weight to his left foot/left side of his body) when asked about Mitt Romney's blundering remarks regarding possible organizational and logistic problems with the 2012 Summer Olympics beginning tomorrow in London. This upper extremity-lower extremity matching is an example of a "nonverbal sincerity amplifier". Coupled together with favoring his dominant side at the beginning of his statement - adds greater credibility and honesty to our interpretation of his statement. He weight shifts back and forth during this video, with his hand gestures matching the side of the body where his weight is favored. If the left hand were illustrating with the weight on his right foot (or vise versa) - or if he preferred his non-dominant side - either of these should heighten our awareness towards possible deception/insincerity. 

The only time such insincerity is seen here is when he leans/shifts to his right at 1:11 (non-dominant side), stutters a bit with an awkward, " .... So I'll obviously make those points to ahhh ... Mitt Romney ... I'm looking forward to our meeting (leans to right) ... ahhh ... later today." It is well known that David Cameron and Barack Obama have a friendship above and beyond the etiquette shown between heads-of-state ( and Mitt Romney's criticisms of the London games certainly didn't help matters).

The vertical hand chop is a commonly seen in displayed by alpha personalities when they are making definitive and assertive statements and responses (please note however - the "finger-point-hand-chop", particularly when being confronted/accused of a lie has a completely different meaning). 

Another advantage of the Prime Minister's style of hand chop - is the additional sub-component of the "thumbs-up"- not always displayed - but engenders optimism. David Cameron used it throughout this press conference and with particular prowess at the 0:28 - 0:29 mark, when he pointed to the Olympic park over his (again dominant) left shoulder.

See also:

Analysis # 2037: When Chanel Suits Don't Match the Body Language - Christine Lagarde's High Anxiety


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2060:
Tony Blair's Seated Crotch Display of Dominance

Tony Blair, a previous Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, is a typical alpha male. And like most alpha males, his default is to display his dominance. In this interview, he is driving home the importance of maintaining strong and persistent international pressure on Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian Government (Tony Blair is special envoy to the Middle East for the "Quartet on the Middle East" - United Nations, Russia, The United States and The European Union). During the 0:38 - 0:44 segment, when the camera pans out, Blair's extremely widely splayed legs exemplify this dominance and strong belief with this nonverbal.

Men adopt this "seated crotch display" when they are amongst other males, to display their relative alpha status. This holds true whether there is friendship or animosity. It is an extremely common way for a President/Prime Minister/CEO to sit during an interview or high-level meeting. In a business setting, men are nearly universally oblivious that the display of this body language offends most all women. In such settings, it is a strong rapport destroyer. This can also be true for men and women in social settings - and in these scenarios, it is a strong signal of sexual attraction.

See also:

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

Analysis # 401: Male Dominance Display - Faux pas

Analysis # 593: Projecting and Detecting Confidence 

Analysis 1899: Bill Cassidy and "Obama-care" - Letting your Body Language Detract from you Message



Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2059:
Musharraf has Contempt towards
Pakistan's Intelligence Agency

During this excerpt from his interview with Piers Morgan, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was questioned about whether the Pakistani Government had knowledge of Osama Bin Laden's whereabouts. Allegedly, for five years, Bin Laden spent the majority of his time in a compound within Pakistan's borders. Former President Musharraf brings up the subject of the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) which is the primary intelligence agency for the Pakistan. At the 1:47 mark, the Musharraf's body language betrays him as he displays microexpression of contempt on the left side of his face. His contempt is directed at his own intelligence agency or someone/a group of people within that agency.

See also:

Analysis # 1510: Handshakes, Statesmanship and Dominance - Manmohan Singh & Asif Ali Zardari

Analysis # 112: Pakistan Trumps Iran

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

Analysis # 1407: Auboni Champion-Morin Reunited with Kidnapped Son After 8 Years - Microexpression of Contempt for Kidnapper

Analysis # 1531: Hillary Clinton Describing the Osama Bin Laden Navy SEAL Raid at the U.S. Naval Academy, 10 April 2012

Analysis  # 221: Spontaneous Mouth Covering & Empathy


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2056:
Aurora, Colorado Mass Shooting
Similarities in Body Language with other Mass Killers

James Holmes, the suspect in the recent "Batman" mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado is pictured in the above image. It was taken during his preliminary court hearing yesterday. From a Body Language standpoint, his mouth is neutral (cover up the rest of his face and look only at his mouth) - however his eyelids are opened widely. There is also a central forehead contraction (with the sides of his forehead relaxed) with the medial (inner) portions of his eyebrows mildly elevated.

When the central forehead is contracted there should be a co-existing mouth expression which is negative (usually that of sadness, pain and sometimes anger). A Central Forehead Contraction (CFC) with a negative mouth expression indicates physical or emotional pain - experienced directly or indirectly via empathy. When a CFC has no negative concomitant mouth expression (again, Holmes' mouth is neutral) - or particularly when a mouth "smile" (which is of course ALWAYS a false smile) - this is RED FLAG time. Indeed, prolonged eyelid retraction (if there are no medical causes) even without the contraction of the central forehead muscles is also be a WARNING SIGN.

While certainly not universal expressions among mass murders (and all people who display these expressions are not murders), it is very intriguing to note how often these nonverbal components are seen among these deviants when compared to the general population. Consistent display of this expression is highly suspicious for narcissism, sociopathic or psychopathic behavior.

Pictured below is Ted Bundy, a mass serial killer of at least thirty people.

While not a serial killer in the classic sense, Marshall Applewhite imaged below, led 39 people to the largest mass-suicide in the United States (1997).

Jared Loughner (below) killed six people and wounding 14 (including then U.S. House of Representative member, Gabrielle Giffords) in a mass shooting (Tucson) in January of 2011.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2055:
Three Wise Monkeys -
Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil -
Body Language Interpretation vs. Traditional Symbolism

The "Three Wise Monkeys", otherwise known as "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" is very old visual metaphor which has different meanings, depending on the culture. In Western societies it has come to mean that - in certain settings it may be wise to look away, fake ignorance or refuse to recognize questionable, illegal or immoral behavior. In Japan, where the proverb is regarded as a golden rule, the three monkeys are named Mizaru (covering his eyes), Kikazaru (covering ears), Iwazaru (covered mouth) and sometimes Shizaru, a forth monkey is pictured with his arms crossed and is symbolic against evil action. In many Eastern societies the three wise monkeys are a pictorial analogy of how the wisdom of steering clear of hearing evil conversation, witnessing evil sights, avoiding using evil words and not mirroring evil acts - will reflect positively back on oneself and one's own life experience and future. 

When it comes to anthropomorphizing (and reverse-anthropomorphizing), the HUMAN body language interpretation of covering BOTH ears - it is usually a very sudden act and accompanies a moment of extreme surprise or shock as well as when there is a sudden realization/problem solving. In all of these scenarios, there is a concomitant wide opening of the eyelids - where the white part of the eyes (sclera) is more exposed than in the normal, resting state. There is often a co-existing widely opened mouth creating a vertically-oriented oval shape. Typically the mouth of surprise/shock/sudden-realization doesn't allow much view of the teeth (such is seen in a false/feigned surprise expression as well as real fear and higher levels of true anger). The sudden rub, covering, itching of ONLY ONE EAR however, has a completely different meaning.
Covering BOTH eyes with the hands, which typically occurs a bit slower than bilateral ear covering noted above, is significant of emotionally processing an event, either witnessed directly or experienced vicariously. It may also indicate a similar emotion of an anticipated event for the immediate or relatively near future. Some refer to this as "emotional blocking". The logical brain acknowledges what is transpiring - or is about to - yet the emotional brain is trying to catch-up and process what is going on. A variation of this is seen when people have prolonged eyelid closure - so while the hands are not covering the eyes, the eyelids are - and this is generally seen in lesser circumstances. It can be thought of as honest and non-sarcastic incredulity/disbelief. This is to be distinguished from the "extended blink" which is usually shorter in duration, coupled with other specific nonverbal clusters and is a form of distancing-arrogance-patronizing behavior. Once again, covering, rubbing, itching ONLY ONE EYE has a completely different meaning.

See also:

Analysis # 291: Obama and Biden - Visual-Emotional Blocking

Rapidly covering the mouth with one or both hand in a covering manner (similar to the chimpanzee above) has a similar meaning to the sudden covering of the ears/sides of face - that of surprise and shock (and sometimes sudden realization/sudden problem solving) - and although it is often difficult or impossible to visualize, often has the suddenly widely-opened, vertical-oval shaped mouth as well as the eyes suddenly opened in a "white and wide" manner. Again, a slower covering of the mouth, touching/rubbing of the lips - almost always with ONE finger/thumb (and to a lesser degree the whole hand) - or touching nearby in the "mustache area" (and often accompanied by a rubbing touching of the nose) has a different meaning entirely.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2041:
Bradley Wiggins Wins Tour de France -
Fiero After Overcoming Obstacle

Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour de France today. Although we cannot see his eyes, periorbital region and forehead, other displays of his body language signal us the emotion of "Fiero".

Fiero is a term coined by the Italian Psychologist Isabella Poggi - and although it has more words than any other language, there is no English language translation (English, intriguingly has a relative lack of words for positive emotions). It is the intense satisfaction we feel when a great obstacle has been overcome. Although its expression is photographed and video captured most often in the context of sports, it may be seen in any field of human endeavor - in personal relationships, health issues, educational, job-related, financial, etc.

Fiero can be experienced directly or indirectly via an empathy-vicarious experience. Hundreds of millions or even billions of people felt this way when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon 43 years and 2 days ago. However fiero it is not braggadocio and does not need others present to be experienced (or in the example of Apollo 11, watching or listening). Particularly in some sporting scenarios, to the casual observer it can, at first glance, appear as bragging and showy - and certainly these other egocentric behaviors and displays exist - but they are very different in nature.

At the height of expression, the face (and often the hands as well) of fiero resemble that of pain and may also resemble anger (interestingly, this is similar to the facial expression made during sexual orgasm). This only lasts for a few seconds though and is shortly replaced by classic nonverbal displays of Sincere Joy-Happiness Smiles.

Most of the time, when the hands/arms are lifted above the head, it signals positive emotions - although there are exceptions (see also: Analysis # 1490: Kansas Surrenders). And also similar to anger, when there is tension in the mid-face and mouth - it is very often mirrored in the hands. With anger, pain and fiero - a fist is a concomitant body language expression.  

Positive and negative emotions are often magnified when in the presence of others. Mob mentality in the setting of riots and war is a negative example of this behavior ... and at the other end of the emotional spectrum - fiero is as well. Sports, Music and to a somewhat lesser degree - politics and religion serve additional roles of allowing a shared fiero and thus engendering a more full human experience.

See also:

Fiero after Accomplishment

Body Language at the FIFA World Cup

Two Emotions for Ron Wood

Analysis # 1446: Tension in the Hands - Tension in the Mouth

Analysis # 1995: Barack Obama, Social Darwinism and the Political Point

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

Analysis # 20: Fiero Feels Good - Mirror Neurons


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2053:
Strong Signal of Fear-Sadness Anxiety -
Aurora, Colorado "Batman Shooting"

Aurora, Colorado Police Chief, Dan Oats is seen here at a press conference yesterday exampling what is known as the "false tie adjust". It is a very reliable body language signal of anxiety - and more specifically a fear-sadness sub-type (In this context it also is suggestive of empathy). Also known as the "Manubrial-Touch", it is seen both in sexes - with women often touching/moving/holding the pendant of their necklace. Variants of this nonverbal are also seen when there is no tie or necklace present - with a touching/rubbing/scratching of the upper portion of the sternum - the manubrium.

Chief Oats also has a classic nonverbal expression of fear displayed with his mouth. While he may not enjoy press conferences or speaking in public, he is for now one of the mouth pieces regarding the tragic shooting in the early morning yesterday. Most everyone fears being the bearers of bad news.

Notice also how many people behind him have their eyes closed. This is not coincidence. One reason for prolonged eyelid closure is emotional processing. It's a body language signal that one's emotions are trying to catch-up to reality and what the "logical brain" already knows. Thus it is common to see prolonged eyelid closure (and eye covering with the hands) during times of fear.

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2052:
Dialing Up Empathy and Sincerity -
Mitt Romney's & Barack Obama's Response to
Aurora, Colorado "Batman Shooting"

Both President Obama and Mitt Romney gave speeches yesterday to express their condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting.

An analysis of their nonverbal communication and their paralanguage is closely correlated to their verbal language - and thus the communicative Gestalt. They both messed up, Obama more so.

When speaking about a tragedy such as this - is one occasion when a speech should not be read from a script. The phrase/idea of "connecting with an audience" means - an Emotional Connection. This cannot be achieved when reading off a script with anywhere near the effectiveness as when it is spoken from the heart. Yes, it may not come off as smooth, and yes - politicians at these high levels are used to having speeches written for them. A compromise/hybrid approach would be to use one or two word bullet points or a similarly constructed mind map - so that a brief glance a one word/phrase will trigger paragraphs of thought/idea/emotions in the speakers mind. It appears that Barack Obama did something akin to this for at least part of his speech. Mitt Romney read directly from a script though - and thus he lost another opportunity to let the electorate see into his human side. As a leader this made them seem less connected to the average person. It's morphed into a distancing moment - rather than a rapport building moment as it should have been.

Election or no election, it's a leader's job to bring people together and lift them up when they need it. Reading from a script is not a good way to achieve this.

What would you think if a person read an apology - a' la Tiger Woods. That a lawyer had written it and it doesn't come from the heart - and thus it has elements of (or big chunks of) insincerity. If someone has to tell you what to say, it's by definition not heart-felt. While not quite this extreme in a memorial, condolence or comforting-type speech - it has this very similar insincere "feel". Remember when Hillary Clinton got choked up during her 2008 presidential bid? People who previously couldn't relate to her, could suddenly see a part of her personality they didn't previously see - she was one of us. Hillary enjoyed a big boost in the poles - and she was a better leader for it.

From a body language standpoint, notice how when either the President or the former Massachusetts Governor reads from their scripts - their hand gestures dramatically drop-off or become non-existent. This is particularly true for Romney, since he is reading throughout. In the world of nonverbal communication, a good share of these gestures fit into a group of behaviors known as Illustrators - for they illustrate, underline, emphasize, bring to life, etc. the verbal messages. When there's a relative or absolute lack of illustrators - this signals anxiety .... and perhaps much more, depending on the other nonverbals seen. When illustrators are used well - synchronous with speech and not too quickly or with excessive speed or amplitude, they increase rapport and audience retention. A lack of illustrators (or an excessive use - which is less common) is also suggestive of insincerity and does not build/destroys rapport.

When speaking in general, particularly in such a high office on such an important matter, steering clear of verbal clichés adds to sincerity - while their use is both a sign of, and engenders feelings of insincerity and anxiety. Barack Obama spoke the sorely overused phrase, "... at the end of the day ..." twice in this short clip (even once would have been disingenuous). This is one downfall of going script-less. Ouch.

While Mitt Romney did read, essentially word for word from a script, overall his words had more of sincere tone. He sounded more compassionate. The very fact he was reading though, detracts from the sincerity quality of his tone. He could improve this incredibly important and all too often under-nuanced paralanguage characteristic of tone-emotion-appropriate usage.

President Obama often has a tone, cadence, rhythm that has a good bit of "Verbal Swagger", and while this may make him feel more powerful and solidify his political base, it is not necessarily the best tactic to use to gain the allegiance of the independent voter in all contexts. It can be heard at various times throughout this segment. When it comes to a memorial/eulogy/tragedy - this verbal quality is abhorrently wrong - for it has a braggadocio and egocentric feel, rather than projecting feelings of sympathy, empathy and compassion. Very wrong.

The nose rub displayed by Obama at the 2:54 mark, is a relatively rare faux pas for him, and suggests strongly that he has anxiety about his statement and does not believe his own words.

Another tactic which would have helped both of these leaders, is either a plexiglass lectern or one with a thin, central support beam would have been far superior (see also: Analysis # 903: The More I See of You - Plexiglass Podium/Lectern). The use of solid-faced lecterns should be avoided. The less we see of a person, the less we trust them, believe them or emotionally connect with them. The opposite is true as well. While such a tactic is true for any speech - political or otherwise - it would particularly wise here.

People want to feel the emotions of their leaders, particularly after such tragedy. When one's verbal, paralanguage and nonverbals are congruent, sincerity and empathy are strong. Without sincerity and empathy there is no connection. Here they are both weak. Obama gets a C- and Romney perhaps a C+ here.

See also:

Analysis # 1855: Sincere Kisses & Closed Eyes

Analysis # 771: Ann's and Mitt's Affectionate Hug

Analysis # 882: President Obama's Stand on Same-Sex Marriage - Is he Sincere?

Analysis # 2046: Romney, Sincerity, Truth and Bain Capital


Friday, July 20, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2050:
George Zimmerman's Interview on Fox -
Microexpression of Contempt and
Duping Delight

In this excerpt from George Zimmerman's interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, there are many body language signals, but one segment in particular is quite interesting. At the 1:01 mark, Zimmerman says, "I feel it was all God's plan, and for me to second-guess it, or judge it ...." At this point, he displays a "twisted smile" mouth expression - with a subtle upturned mouth on his right and the left corner of his mouth frowning. This is concomitant with a lateral head shake. This wry-smile is a form of "duping delight" (Ekman) and highly consistent with insincere and duplicitous emotions - strongly signaling emotional dissonance.

Moreover, halfway through this statement (at the 1:02 - 1:03 mark), George Zimmerman flashes a microexpression of contempt on his right side (mouth corner, mid-face). Although, it is not clear for whom he feels contempt (possibly himself), this highly reliable and unconscious display leave us no doubt of his true feelings. Contempt coupled with his verbal statement also indicates to us that he does NOT believe the events were part of "God's plan". Trayvon Martin's parents not surprisingly disagree.