Sunday, October 12, 2014

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2981: Wendy Davis, the Governor of Texas, Book Covers and Projecting the Wrong Emotions (PHOTO)

Wendy Davis is running for Governor of Texas. She's an underdog - currently polls say she's about 12 points down vs. Greg Abbott.

As do many who run for high office, she recently published her memoir, "Forgetting to Be Afraid". The story of her life to date has been a difficult one and many would not have overcome similar adversity. Yet the nonverbal messages as well as other components of her book cover works against her.

Let's look a couple of the easy issues first. Having two negatives words in the title has a destructive psychological effect. Alternatives such as: "Another helping of Courage", "Backbone", "Texas Courage" or "Texas Grit", etc. would have a much stronger message - and also one consistent with positive leadership.

Another amateur and basic mistake here (a' la the first of the 1960 Nixon-Kennedy Presidential Debates) is a background which is almost the same shade as Ms. Davis' shirt. This is a nonverbal metaphor for lack of strength, low definition and a beta personality. Nixon blended in, Kennedy stood out. This is a classic lesson in American political circles - learn from history.

Her smile is also insincere. This is a specific example of what in body language parlance is known as a "social smile" and what most everyone will label as "she doesn't really want to be here" or "she doesn't like me but she's pretending to" or "I belong here and you don't" or "insincerity/fake/inauthentic" or worse. From a strict nonverbal analysis perspective, what additional specific emotion is being projected here? When it comes to book covers, certainly not everyone has to be smiling. However in the context of a book, the purpose of which is to get her elected - the emotions her face is projecting are profoundly important. This is not the face of a person who you would want to baby sit or from whom you would buy a house. Nor is it one any politician should adopt who wants to get elected.

Most all nonverbal novices oversimplify "hand(s) in pockets" signals. A politician should NEVER have their hands in their pockets. NEVER. At best it projects signals of passive, beta, and unassertive emotional tones. Depending on the other nonverbals with which it is clustered, it can also send feelings of deception and cowardice. In this particular pose, secondary sexual signals suggest additional ambivalence. This and similar hand-in-pocket configurations have in the last several years become more popular for male actors posing on the red carpet. If you want to project strength, action, assertiveness, and alpha qualities - get your hands out of your pockets.

In summary, Wendy Davis' nonverbal signals on this book cover are not building rapport or engendering a leadership image - but destroying them. With regards to the book's cover and in other political nonverbals and behaviorals - she has been ill-advised.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2980: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Thinks Women Should Not Ask for Raises and should Trust in Karma

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2424:  Giada De Laurentiis on Conan O'Brien  Beautiful Teeth but Insincere Smiles and  Some Body Language Signals of Waning Love

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2596: What Motivates Ted Cruz's Regarding Anti-Obamacare, Body Language Tells on Jay Leno

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2705: Congressman Michael Grimm Apology - Sincere or Not? Body Language Tells

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2546: Miss America Nina Davuluri, A Beautiful Woman - but What of Her Smile?

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2870: Cate Blanchett and a Subtle Body Language Signal of Insincere Laughter

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2331  Sheryl Sandberg on Time Cover - Magazine Brass Picked Completely Wrong Image - Her Body Language has the Opposite Message of the Article