Saturday, August 31, 2013

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2506:
Barack Obama, the Self-Righteous Head Wiggle and
Retaliation Against Syrian Poison Gas Attack

Today President Obama gave a speech in The Rose Garden wherein he surprised most everyone. There he announced that, although he believes the United States should take military action against Syria for using chemical weapons on its own people, he has asked both houses of Congress to take a vote on the issue.

Of course there were many body language signals displayed by the President in this speech. A significant and rarely noted one is the "Self-Righteous Head Wiggle".

At 1:44 in the above video, the President says, "... After careful deliberation I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets...." Within this sentence during the 1:46 - 1:47 (very subtle) and 1:49 - 1:51 (a bit easier to see, yet still subtle) segments you will see a high frequency side-to-side movement of the President's head. These are relatively difficult to see for the untrained eye, yet they're highly significant examples of the SRHW (Most anyone can see dramatic examples of body language, but if you want to benefit and see what everyone else misses, you should endeavor to see the moderate and the subtle displays which most people indeed overlook).

It is helpful to think of the SRHW as a form of body language swagger. People who display it are displaying alpha qualities. They feel particularly passionate and have very high confidence levels about the idea/issue being verbalized when they use it (although it can be seen on occasion where no words are being spoken). There is nearly always an increase in the frequency and volume of the voice simultaneous with and proportional to the nonverbal display.

As with all alpha nonverbal signals, the Self-Righteous Head Wiggle and the closely related Self-Righteous Torso Wiggle are rapport destroyers and thus should be used very sparingly. Barack does not over-do it here. There may also be a similar jaw component or primary shoulder wiggle seen. In addition, super imposed over the side-to-side movement there may be a backward vectoring (signifying incredulity or disgust) or a forward motion (adds a reprimanding or scolding meaning to the mix).

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2464:  Gen. Martin Dempsey (Chairman U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff) Sen. John McCain and The Self-Righteous Torso Wiggle Body Language on Capitol Hill

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2398:  Self Righteous Head Wiggle, Alpha Behavior &  First Drone Flight Off of an Aircraft Carrier

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1552:  The Self-Righteous Head Wiggle &  The Buffett Rule

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

Nonverbal Communication Intelligence # 2113:  Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, the U.S. and the Self-Righteous Head Wiggle

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2130:  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Helping Syria -  Interview with Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2148:  Joe Biden vs. Paul Ryan and the  "Self-Righteous Head Wiggle" in the Vice Presidential Debate

This image was captured at the 1:50 mark. Note the President's head is blurred due to the side-to-side movement of the Self-Righteous Head Wiggle. Compare this to his torso which does not show signs of movement.