Sunday, December 28, 2014

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3051: Jim Harbaugh & 49ers Part Ways - Onwards to Michigan (PHOTOS)

Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers are no more. All indications are that Harbaugh's going back to the University of Michigan to coach a college team rumored to be still be in Ann Arbor.

The 49ers finished the season with an 8-8 record while the Wolverines finished theirs 5-7 (3-5 in the Big Ten).

Here Harbaugh is pictured in a fingers-forward arms-akimbo stance. This body language is the most alpha of the three configurations exampled here.

In this moment, Harbaugh's left hand is seen with fingers forward arm-akimbo, however his right is engaged with the back of hand above his hip and although it can't be fully visualized - it's probably in a loose fist (as he is holding his play-sheet). This stance is still projecting an alpha emotional tone, but less than the example above. Note also that his elbows are pointed further backwards compared with the first photo.

Although we can't see Harbaugh's left arm & hand in this third photo, it's highly probable that they're the mirror image of his right - hands in his back pockets with his thumbs forward. This body language, while still certainly projecting some alpha qualities, is the most beta of the three moments.

There are many body language signals which are considerably alpha, and when displayed even for a bit too long (which is pretty brief), will project a hyper-alpha state. And while in the context of NFL head coaches and sideline bravado such aggressive body language is certainly more normal for context, in almost all other settings these nonverbal signals will back fire - and rather than build rapport and influence they will be diminished or even destroyed.

The second and particularly the third images are examples of what are known as "Alpha-Beta Hybrids" and thus have the advantages of significant assertiveness, confidence and leadership - while not bringing the hyper-alpha backlash. Many business, sales, legal and other professional settings need to recognize, accurately interpret and use just such nonverbal nuance, rather than being the body language equivalent of a bull in a china shop which is much more typical.

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