Thursday, January 3, 2013

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2254:
John Boehner's Speech Today -
One Major Body Language Improvement
The U.S. Speaker of the House Should Make

John Boehner (R-OH) was re-elected by his republican colleagues as U.S. Speaker of the House. Of course this speech contains many nonverbals - a couple notables here:

Mr. Boehner's use of his hands is very minimal during this speech. In the world of body language, most hand-arm "gestures" are termed "Illustrators" (although other parts of the body/face can be illustrators as well) while others here fit into what are known as Manipulators, Adaptors or Pacifiers (MAPs). In general, although there are some exceptions, illustrators act to visually "underline", emphasize, accentuate, etc. simultaneous speech (although they can be used in absence of any verbal communication). Illustrators usually involve no self-touching.

MAPs involve of variations self-touching - although some examples of this category of body language may not at first glance seem to fit into this category. MAPs in general (exceptions here too) are signals of anxiety - and these can of course be greatly nuanced with added, layered meanings depending on the specific MAP and the other nonverbals with which they are clustered.

Speaker Boehner, throughout the vast majority of his speech today, used very little illustrators. Most of the time his left hand was placed on top of his right hand, with his right hand held in a loose fist. Such body language (one of many examples of a MAP) in this context is very ill-advised. Rather he would greatly benefit from skillful, congruent and relaxed use of illustrators - for they send signals of honesty, an alpha mindset, confidence and assertiveness. Together with other intangibles these qualities engender rapport. In fact, in face-to-face interactions, if a person does not use his hands, full and objective rapport is very difficult to establish. One who rarely uses his hands-arms (again in a congruent and relaxed manner) projects to her/his audience (even an audience of one) significantly reduced feelings of trust, reduced forthrightness and much less comfort-confidence. Of course, over-use, incongruent and "excessive-alpha" illustrators will backfire and also prevent and/or damage rapport - or worse.

Another under-appreciated MAP displayed several times in the above video is Mr. Boehner's short-lived biting of his right lower lip. Here his subconscious/edge of consciousness is attempting to squelch his emotions as he tries to prevent the display of happy-sad tears. This is well exemplified during the 5:06 - 5:12 segment.

Good luck to the entire 113th Congress.

See also:

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

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2121: Mitt Romney's 47 Percent - Body Language of the Hidden Video 

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

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

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2150: Body Language Advice for President Obama and Governor Romney in Tonight's Debate

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1915: Mitt Romney's Response to Supreme Court's Decision on "Obamacare"

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1083: Brewer's Body Language MAPs Flag Foreboding

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 199:  When a Lie is Told, Heard or Visualized by ....Vladimir's Eye
Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2063: Mitt Romney and Ed Miliband - Under Used and Backfiring Uses of Hands