Sunday, August 5, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2078:
Mitt Romney's Taxes and Harry Reid's Accusations

On Friday, Harry Reid accused Mitt Romney of not paying any taxes for the past ten years. In this video, Mr. Romney is defending these attacks by the Senate Majority Leader. While, like everyone else, we don’t have any of the former Massachusetts Governor's tax records, and thus we can’t comment on legalities as the IRS’s could, Mitt Romney’s body language tells us his honesty regarding these taxes. Generally, Mitt has a very bad habit of not using his hands as illustrators during speeches and interviews – however  this video is an important exception to his pattern. An illustrator is a facial, hand/arm or body dynamic nonverbal configuration which emphasizes, underlines or animates the spoken word. When used in a congruent manner with the verbal message, illustrators indicate credibility, build rapport and increase learning/recall in the audience. One must be very careful to not confuse illustrators with MAPs (Manipulators, Adaptors, Pacifiers).

Mitt tends to be “old school” when it comes to his lack of displaying illustrators. In decades past, “speech coaches” often preached to not use one's hands/arms when talking - based on nothing more than their own personal bias. Romney has heeded this bad advice - it is absolutely wrong. It is not to imply however, that haphazard movements of the hands & arms are helpful or to be encouraged. Atypically for him, Mitt used his hands and arms in a highly congruent manner when verbalizing his defense against Harry Reid's accusations.