Monday, April 29, 2013

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2382:
Syrian Opposition Leader Ghassan Hitto -
Does His Body Language Betray Anxiety?
Or is it Hyperhidrosis?

Syrian Opposition Leader Ghassan Hitto is interviewed in this video by Holly Williams. Note throughout this interaction Mr. Hitto, an American Citizen, sweats profusely (even dripping onto his jacket). Primary Hyperhidrosis (a diagnosis of exclusion - when other medical causes of excessive perspiration have been ruled out) affects approximately 2.8% of the population. Said another way, a relatively small percentage of the population sweats a lot even if they are not nervous, it is not hot, if they don't have an underlying medical condition and if they are not exercising. Thus, if you're in the midst of a negotiation, sitting across from another person who displays excessive sweating - be aware that although it may indicate a nervous emotional tone - alone it is not a conclusive sign of anxiety. You must also see other signals of anxiety to be sure of this emotion. Mr. Hitto only displayed one MAP (Manipulator, Adaptor, Pacifier) in this interview (What was it and what did its display indicate?). Ghassan Hitto's anxiety level was proportional to the context for a normal healthy individual in this scenario - and indeed many "leaders" would have been much more nervous than he (and displayed it) - given the gravity of the situation.

The finger wag exhibited in this video by the Syrian Opposition Leader, even though pointed up (pointed at Ms. Williams/audience/camera would have been even worse), is an ill-advised body language illustrator in almost any interview. Even though you may agree with his words and the sentiments he expresses here, Mr. Hitto's finger wag is a rapport destroyer and engenders patronizing and condescending sentiments towards those watching this interview. Leaders must believe in their cause (as he does and his sincerity quotient is indeed high) and show passion - while also winning over support of others (e.g., maintain your base and win over the centrists).

Hitto, like all of us, needs a balance of both alpha and beta body language. Knowing when and how to nuance your nonverbals to support your verbal message is important skill where many stumble. Too many otherwise experienced people rely on their autopilot in these situations - and an autopilot won't get you through a dogfight. Projecting a "hyper-alpha" personality, even momentarily, drives away many who otherwise would support your cause.

See also:

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 351:  Never let 'em See You Sweat

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1918:  Vladimir Putin - Pointing with Pen Surrogates  Sharp vs. Blunt

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2149:  Losing Votes with the Double Index Finger Point - A Faux Pas Nearly Every Time

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2321:  Cardinal Timothy Dolan on "Face the Nation"  Problems in Catholic Church & Electing a New Pope  Clergy are Not Exempt from Body Language Tells ...

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 349:  Pointing with Two Fingers (or more)

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2360:  Bill Clinton and the Body Language of a  "Loose Hand, Palm Up Point

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1705:  Fran├žois Hollande & the French Presidential Election  The Pistol Steeple and Emotional Dissonance