Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2235:
Barack Obama and John Boehner -
The Fiscal Cliff and Contrasting Body Language

Use of the hands as "Illustrators" during speech can go a long ways to detecting and projecting sincerity - as well as confidence. It also contributes very significantly to developing rapport. Comparing yesterday's two press conferences - the President's (a portion of) vs. The Speaker's brief press conference, both provides significant contrast.

Note how Barack Obama uses his hands in conjunction with his speech. No over dramatic movements are displayed, in either speed or amplitude. Nor is there any self-touching (Manipulators, Adaptors, Pacifiers - aka MAPs). One particular nonverbal Mr. Obama uses a fair amount here is termed a "Basketball Steeple" - with his hands held and moved as if holding an invisible basketball. This sends signals of confidence, authority, with open-mindedness. Moreover, it's extremely rare to see any president displaying a "Conventional Steeple" - which when used, must be very briefly - lest is send signals of arrogance and condescending emotions. Neither man used the conventional steeple in either of these videos.

Contrastingly, John Boehner barely used his hands at all. This works against him. It doesn't engender rapport or sincerity. It also makes a person less believable in addition to projecting less confidence - which, after Speaker Boehner withdrew his "Plan B" for the Fiscal Cliff due to lack of support, suggested the Ohio Congressman knew his plan lacked significant backing. Of course, just using one's hands and using them to illustrate well are at two ends of the body language spectrum. Many people gesticulate in a haphazard manner - which will backfire. The basketball steeple is but one of a multitude of nonverbal tools.

See also:

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1503: The Conventional Steeple vs. The Basketball Steeple -  Seeking a Balance

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 901: The Over-used Steeple - Body Language Backfire in Berlin

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

Nonverbal Communication Analysis #2223: Dick Armey's Body Language and the Fiscal Cliff

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2228: Jay Carney's Body Language - Contempt disguised as a Sniff .... for Republicans' Solutions to the Fiscal Cliff

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2224: Barack's Body Language - It's (NOT) good to be back in Michigan President Obama Campaigns for Fiscal Cliff Resolution 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2190: President Obama's Body Language - Press Conference 14 October 2012 - Defense of Ambassador Susan Rice