Sunday, November 15, 2015

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3373: Barack Obama Delivers a Statement on the attacks in Paris - Body Language (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Hand and arm nonverbal displays (what most people refer to as "gestures") when used with nuance are powerful nonverbal tools. In body language parlance, gestures fit into categories termed either as "Illustrators" or "MAPs" (Manipulators, Adaptors, Pacifiers). These nonverbal signs can build rapport or destroy it - they may project either alpha or beta characteristics - or they may reflect arrogance or more humble qualities. Many people use gestures in an incongruent manner relative to their verbal language and paralanguage (vocal qualities) - and in such disparity - will "leak" their true thought-feelings. In contrast, when all three communication channels (verbal, nonverbal, paralanguage) are aligned - sincerity is present and recognized.

Last night, when delivering his statement regarding the attacks in Paris, Barack Obama made almost no hand or arm gestures. Only an occasional crossing and uncrossing of his hands on the top of the lectern - as well as a gripping of its sides were displayed. Other than these milder hand and arm movements, no other gestures were used in this 4 minute speech. When speaking about such a somber and tragic event - particularly when it's still unfolding, lower positions and a relative lack of use of the hands projects a greater reverence and respect for those who had lost their lives in the attack.

If President Obama's hands had been elevated and using movements and configurations which, in almost any other setting would be "normal" or acceptable - would have been out of context here. Moreover had Mr. Obama displayed even moderate hand use in this situation, it would be both interpreted and signify an insensitive emotional tone with a veiled political agenda. The President's lower position and minimal hand usage is an analog of the genital guarding/fig leaf configuration.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3372: Ben Carson, Low Expressivity & Body Language

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2800: Richard Gere Plays a Homeless Man and a Caring Parisian Gives Him Food - Body Language of Sincerity and Empathy

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2409: David Cameron & Fran├žois Hollande - Variations on the Hand Chop & Palm Orientation  

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3308: Hillary Clinton's Apology - Certainly Late, Yet Was It Sincere? 

Nonverbal Communication Quiz-Analysis No. 2902: How Sincere was Ray Rice's Apology?

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3337: Barack Obama regarding Vladimir Putin on 60 Minutes - Body Language Tells  

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3318: Barack Obama and Pope Francis