Sunday, July 14, 2013

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2459:
Was Eliot Spitzer Sincere?
Apology, Sincerity and Body Language
(Video, Photo)

Now that he is running for public office again (Comptroller for the City of New York), Eliot Spitzer is back in the spotlight. Was he sincere when he resigned as Governor of New York back in 2008? How do you judge a person's sincerity?

Did the governor choose the correct words? - From the point of view of speech writer perhaps. He would much better advised though to speak from his heart. Apologies which are read from a script are almost never interpreted by anyone as sincere.

Is Spitzer's tone of voice sincere? Absolutely not. He is reading with tone, cadence, volume and rhythm of a campaign speech - not an apology. There is nothing humble or apologetic in his tone.

What about Spitzer's body language? Although Spitzer repeatedly looks up to the audience, he does so as if he's a nervous sixth grader running for school treasurer. Any public speaker of reasonable experience and certainly a governor should recognize a crucial difference between repeated glances at the audience and taking the time to make eye contact with those in the audience for two or three seconds. Care should be taken to not look repeatedly at the same person - but rather to look in a random pattern around the audience. Of particular importance is when Spitzer says the word "apologize" he looks down at his notes (1:00 mark).

Note how Spitzer's hands never leave the side of the lectern. If we don't see a person's hands we tend not to trust them. In a sincere apology there is often a full palm contact over the sternum or left chest - thus being "heart felt". This is done subconsciously. A much less sincere variation is when only the fingertips make contact. Spitzer never gave us either of these nonverbal examples though. He would even have been perceived as much more sincere if he had used no lectern at all. The more that is seen of a person, the more they are trusted. Think about it. Would you trust someone who's wearing a mask? In the context of an apology - scrap the lectern.

On no occasion in this video did Spitzer's central forehead contract (CFC). A contraction of the central forehead is seen when one is experiencing physical or emotional pain - and if an apology is sincere. The absence of a CFC in the context of an apology indicates it is feigned. With the exception of heavy Botox bilateral stroke or bilateral trauma and a few other rare conditions, there are no exceptions to this rule.

Incredibly Spitzer displays a "Self-Righteous Head Wiggle" in this apology/resignation. Did you spot it?

If an apology or any statement is sincere, the paralanguage, verbal and nonverbal language must all be congruent. This example is far from it.

What other highly significant body language did you see in this video example?

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2455:  Eliot Spitzer's Running for Office - Asymmetry in the Facial Expression, Sincerity &  Norah O'Donnell's Not Just Another Pretty Face

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2428:  Stephen King & "Under the Dome"  A Glimpse into One's Mind and  A Signal of High Sincerity

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2207:  Body Language, Sincerity and Mahmoud Abbas  United Nations grants Palestine "Nonmember Observer State"

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2441:  Paula Deen's Apology - What Does Her Body Language Say?

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2:  Body Language of Blake Lively and Penn Badgley  Strongly Suggests an Impending Break-up in Near Future

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1923:  Hillary Clinton's Body Language re: Syrian Government -  The Self-Righteous Head Wiggle