Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3275: Carly Fiorina, The Republican Debate and Likability (or not) – Body Language (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Carly Fiorina has climbed in the polls and Donald Trump has fallen. According to Rasmussen the former HP CEO has increased her share of the polling pie to 9%. She is clustered with Governor Scott Walker who's also poling at 9% - and just behind Governor Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio who are both at 10%. Donald Trump has slipped significantly to 17%.

Yet from a body language perspective, Ms. Fiorina is far from where she needs to be. Although there are several mistakes exampled in this short video segment, one very common one seen here is a complete lack of the use of her arms and hands.

In nonverbal parlance many of hand and arm gestures are examples of what are termed "illustrators" - for they emphasize, highlight and add flavor to our verbal language. And while illustrators certainly may be displayed too frequently, too dramatically, overly aggressively (hyper-alpha displays such as Mr. Trump) or not congruently with the simultaneous-clustered paralanguage and verbal messages - using them minimally or not at all, will almost always project a lower confidence and diminished assertiveness.

What many people don't realize is that lack of/low illustrator use results in other over-compensatory behaviors (How is Carly overcompensating here?).

Also, when hands are hiding behind, blocked by or resting too long on a lectern (or below a table, a witness stand barrier, etc.) human beings will subconsciously assign less trustworthiness to the speaker. Simply put, if we cannot see your hands we tend to think you're less honest.

Quality and nuanced hand and arm illustrators will also send signals of likability and improve rapport (as well as decrease unfavorables and increase her favorables). These behaviors must never be or look as if they're forced or cliché in nature - lest the audience will feel the insincerity and such acting will backfire. By improving her nonverbal skills, Ms. Fiorina will further leverage her verbal prowess and climb higher in the polls. If so, come November 2016, we could very well have two women running for the White House. 

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3274: Chris Christie, Rand Paul, The Republican Debate and National Security

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3272: Donald Trump, Megyn Kelly, Deception and Misogyny 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2016: Hillary Clinton, Roosevelt Island, Building Rapport and Body Language

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3060: Bradley Cooper, Air Guitar, Neil Young & the R2E2 Expression 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2818: The Caring Hand, Palms Up and Building Rapport

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2977: Raven-Symoné: "I'm Tired of Being Labeled" - Interview with Oprah

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2952: Kmart's "Not a Christmas Commercial" - No Place for Arrogance