Monday, March 25, 2013

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2345:
Tiger Woods & Lindsey Vonn -
Body Language of True Affection?

The last few days have been big ones for Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn. Last week the World Class golfer and all-Universe skier announced that they're officially a couple. And today, after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Florida, Tiger Woods has regained the World number one golf ranking - a position he has not held since October 2010. It was his third win of 2013.

There have been some in the press that have suggested the two great athletes are dating as a publicity stunt. Obviously, that would be very ill-advised. Certainly this and similar tactics have been taken by others in the past, but it is not the case here. And while the two images in this post are posed pictures taken by a professional photographer - there are signals of true affection exampled here that would escape the mind of most. Indeed these and many other valuable signs are missed daily by most during dates, marriages and pre-break-ups. 

In each of these two photos, both Vonn and Woods are sporting a highly sincere aka "Duchenne" smiles. Most importantly their eyes are partially closed with a dynamic, concave-up lower lid furrow. Without this partial closure - (a contraction of the orbicularis oculi pars orbitalis muscle which also elevates and "bunches up" the cheeks), a smile is NEVER sincere. 

Very few can make a sincere smile on-demand. Even professional actors when interviewed about their own lives events, families, etc. And While all who are in front of the press often - and who depend on their public image for much of their income and success (like these two athletes do) - almost none of them have body language training. They absolutely should. The same logic of course goes for non-athletes who appear on-camera or have a significant amount of high-value face-time with others (e.g. attorneys, physicians, sales professions, corporate executives, law enforcement, politicians, etc.). Ignore and neglect the nonverbal channel your peril.

Another component of a sincere smile is the upper teeth being visible - though this is not required (e.g. during suppressed smiles). However the lower teeth, in general, should not be seen during a sincere smile - with the following exceptions: 

1. If held for too long (e.g. during prolonged posing sessions) the bottom teeth become visible 
    due to fatigue (most probably contributing to Woods' slight lower teeth being exposed here)
2. Downward camera angle (camera or view of another person positioned above mouth looking 
    and looking downwards, also contributing here)
3. During the transition to, in the midst of, or in the final throws of laughter (possibly contributing)

Sincere smiles should also ALWAYS have relaxed foreheads. A contracted forehead - with dynamic furrows is a sure sign of a false, fake or insincere smile. Only relaxed foreheads are seen here on both Woods and Vonn.

The upper photo demonstrates several signals of affection that are particularly important. Note how Lindsey is on Tiger's left side - she is held closure to his heart with her body turned towards him. This literal "closeness to the heart" is a visual and nonverbal metaphor for the true affection (and true love) that exists. Very few professional photographers are aware of this particular left-sided nonverbal affection signal - yet those in love "know it" subconsciously and gravitate towards it. Parents who have true affection for their children will also bias their holding and cuddling of their children on their left chest, regardless of their handedness. 

Physical proximity of their heads and their necks and heads leaning towards each other is also a strong signal of affection (and an absolute give away in office romances that are trying to be kept secret).

Lindsey Vonn and Tiger Woods are not conducting a publicity stunt. They are in love and their body language shows a high degree of affection for one another.

See also:

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1496:  Tiger Woods' Disgust & Biofeedback

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1211:  Tiger's Eyes -  Subtle Signal, Severe Anger

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 483:  Handshake on the 18th - not so fast

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2332:  Instinctive Body Language, Comforting an Infant & Empathy

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1808: Time Magazine's  Breast Feeding, Dr. William Sears, and Attachment Parenting Controversy - Shows Emotional Dissonance at Best

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 353:  Brad Pitt's Smiling Eyes -  Sincere and Insincere Smiles

Dating & Romance Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1010:  What Makes the Twinkle in Her Eye?