Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2143:
Meyers and Bailey Leonard -
The Illini, The Marine & The Reunion -
Emotional Processing & Sincerity

This viral video shows the reunion of two brothers - Meyers Leonard, who at the time was a center on University of Illinois basketball team (he was picked no. 11 overall in the 2012 draft and now plays for the Portland Trail Blazers) - and Bailey Leonard, a U.S. Marine just returning from his deployment in Afghanistan. When Bailey surprises his brother on the court before a game, initially Meyers turns away (1:49 - 1:51) and covers both eyes, nose and his mouth with his left hand (1:50 - 1:58). Both the "turn away" and the bilateral eye/mouth covering are nonverbal signals that - although his visual system and his intellect are telling him the facts - his emotional brain is playing catch up to the sudden turn of events. Such emotional processing and its congruent body language are seen during major life and emotional scenarios - whether they are joyous or tragic (This was the most common facial expression among those witnessing the twin towers collapse on 11 September 2001). 

A few moments later (1:58 - 2:08) Meyers covers his sternum with his entire left hand. Note his palm of his hand making contact. This is a very important and often overlooked detail. A "Palmar Touch" signifies a high degree of sincerity. While in such a reunion-type setting this body language is no surprise, it's a nonverbal that is very commonly feigned in negotiations, witness testimony, sales professionals - and in political debates, etc. We can recognize this "pretended sincerity" because only the fingers & thumb touch - and not the palm of the hand. A more extreme example of this insincerity is when the hand gestures toward the chest - but doesn't make any contact. Another red flag of insincerity is raised when the right side of the chest or stomach is touched by the palm of the hand - rather than the sternum, manubrium or the left side of the chest.

See also:

Nonverbal Analysis # 221: Hillary Clinton - Spontaneous Mouth Covering & Empathy 

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

Nonverbal Analysis # 665: Bashar al-Assad - A Strong Sign of Insincerity 

Nonverbal Analysis # 1455: Ann Romney, The Illinois Primary & Sincerity

Nonverbal Analysis # 21: Surprise + Fear + Empathy