Sunday, September 13, 2015

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3308: Hillary Clinton's Apology - Certainly Late, Yet Was It Sincere? - Body Language (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Last week on Nightline, Hillary Clinton made an apology for not keeping separate her personal emails and her Secretary of State-related emails. What follows is a nonverbal analysis of this crucial portion of the interview.

Beginning at 0:55, Mrs. Clinton says, "... Um, but I do think I - could have and should have done a better job, ah, answering questions earlier. As I look back at it now, even though it was allowed, I should've used two accounts, one for personal, one for - ah, work-related emails, ah. That was a mistake. I'm sorry about that. I take responsibility, ah, and I'm trying to be as transparent as I possibly can ..."

During this very important segment, Mrs. Clinton displays several shoulder shrugs (simultaneous with her spoken words outlined above in bold-red). A shoulder shrug should never be used in the midst of an apology. Never. It sends signals of:
  • "I Don't Know"
  • "I Don't Care" or 
  • "What Does It Matter?"
Moreover an apology should never include:
  • Torso Angled back in Chair (away from interviewer or audience) 
  • Head & Neck angled back, tilted back (although this is not as pronounced here as with some of her interviews)
  • Crossed Ankles (very commonly used by Mrs. Clinton)
  • Intertwined Fingers 
Note also that the former Secretary of state is using a lower volume, lower tone and slower rate of speech than for her is typical. And although lowering one's pitch, rate and volume are certainly valuable tools in helping to regulate our emotions' and moods' - these changes do not in isolation indicate or project sincerity. She's been coached to modify her voice in this manner - yet she's not pulling it off.

Taken in parts or in toto - Hillary Clinton's apology is insincere. In addition, she's sending signals of impatient dismissal and strong feelings consistent with, "I'm only saying this because I have to." Mrs. Clinton feels she should NOT have had to apologize. She still feels she did nothing illegal. Thus while her apology is not a sincere one, this would be a similar nonverbal (and paralanguage) display for nearly all of us who felt we were forced into an apology which was not owed.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3307: Donald Trump on Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3258: Hillary Clinton speaks out on "inaccuracies" of private email controversy

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3264: Hillary Clinton, Likability, Perceived Trustworthiness and Body Language

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3234: Whole Foods Market, Message to Customers, Damage Control and Body Language Faux Pas 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2512:  Matthew Cordle's YouTube Confession  and the Death of Vincent Canzani  "I Killed a Man" - What His Body Language Tells Us