Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3136: Barack Obama and Brother-in-Law Craig Robinson at Princeton's Game - Contrasting Low Empathy vs. High Empathy - Body Language (PHOTO)

Barack Obama took in a bit of the Women's NCAA basketball tournament on Saturday. Here the President is seen sitting next to his brother-in-law, Craig Robinson at the Princeton vs. Wisconsin-Green Bay game. The President's niece, and Robinson's daughter - Leslie Robinson is a freshman play on the Princeton Tigers (They won the game 80-70 but lost to first seed Maryland yesterday).

From a body language perspective, this picture is a great contrast in empathy. The President is inhaling - his cheeks collapsed in a tight-lip purse. His eyelids are slightly closed and not-tensed. Barack is leaning toward his brother-in-law and slow-punching Robinson's shoulder.

Craig Robinson is seen in an expression in what many would describe as "wincing". He is experiencing a significant level of emotional pain - his eyebrows are pulled together and downward, with eyelids closed tightly, with significant mid-face tension, his jaw clenched/teeth together, the corners of his mouth are pulled backwards-down and his head-neck are leaning backwards. Robinson is feeling a father's emotional pain as his daughter's team is being scored-on. In contrast, the President's body language-facial expression is much lower in its empathy level - it's essentially saying, "Hey bro, I know you feel it (but I don't REALLY feel it)". After all, it is not HIS daughter and of course he has been desensitized with insight to much greater sufferings.

Another significant nonverbal teaching point here is the fact that Robinson is while holding a child - and thus his arms and hands restricted - and need to be gentle. These appendages are therefore greatly dampened in what is otherwise a powerful outlet for nonverbal expression. Whenever the arms and hands are suppressed - a greater amount of expression "leaks" out via other places - and in this example we see it on Craig Robinson's face.

See also:

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