Sunday, January 10, 2016

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3431: El Chapo, Sean Penn, an Interview and a Handshake - Body Language Tells (PHOTOS)

Photo credit: Sean Penn and Rolling Stone Magazine

In October of 2015, in a meeting brokered by Mexican soap-opera star, Kate del Castillo, Sean Penn rendezvoused with "El Chapo" somewhere in the jungles of Mexico. The American actor penned an 11,000 word article of this interview which was published last night in Rolling Stone.

Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán - is of course, the kingpin of the Sinaloa drug cartel. Recently, he was a fugitive after his second prison break in July, 2015 - and may have been the most wanted man in the World. Mr. Guzmán was recaptured by Mexican marines after a gun fight on 8 January 2016 in Los Mochis, a city in Guzmán's home state of Sinaloa.

The image above image was taken at Penn's request for "verification purposes".

Here is an excerpt from the Rolling Stone article:

"I ask to take a photograph together so that I could verify to my editors at Rolling Stone that the planned meeting had taken place. 'Adelante,' he says. We all rise from the table as a group and follow Chapo into one of the bungalows. Once inside, we see the first sign of heavy arms. An M16 lies on a couch opposite the neutral white wall against which we would take the photograph. I explain that, for authentication purposes, it would be best if we are shaking hands, looking into the camera, but not smiling. He obliges. The picture is taken on Alfredo's cellphone. It would be sent to me at a later date."

When a close-up of their handshake is evaluated, we can see that Sean Penn's hand is cupped - such that there is not a full palmar contact (no palm-to-palm touching).

When a hand is cupped in the midst of a handshake, there are three primary underlying considerations:

1. Posing for a handshake
2. An extra firm, squeezing handshake (although certainly not with all firm handshakes)
3. Distancing Phenomenon (see below)

It's of course openly stated that this was a posed handshake (earlier in the same article, Penn mentions their initial handshake-'compandre' hug greeting ("He opens Kate's door and greets her like a daughter returning from college. It seems important to him to express the warm affection in person that, until now, he'd only had occasion to communicate from afar. After greeting her, he turns to me with a hospitable smile, putting out his outstretched hand. I take it. He pulls me into a 'compadre' hug, looks me in the eyes and speaks a lengthy greeting in Spanish too fast for my ears."). There is no photograph (or at least no published one) of this earlier mentioned handshake. 

Looking at Penn's forearm, we can see his grip at this moment is considerable.

The third possible cause for cupping the hand during a handshake is really a related group of emotions. When there is little or no palmar touching - it's a signal of the psyche pulling away from the other person - a significant degree of emotional discomfort is present. Even though this touching occurs within the context of a handshake, there is less touching occurring here compared with that of a warm handshake - and this should never be ignored. Taken in isolation, this particular Distancing Phenomenon indicates Dislike, Disrespect, Distrust, Deception and/or Insincerity/Disengagement (of course these emotions overlap).

The next time you notice yourself shaking someone's hand in this cupped fashion (assuming you're not squeezing too hard and you're not posing for a photo) - ask yourself, "Why?" You'll find the cause among those listed above. If you notice someone who shakes YOUR hand in this manner - especially if it's a repeated behavior, take heed. You've been warned.

Photo credit: Sean Penn and Rolling Stone Magazine
See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3430: Jack Sock, Lleyton Hewitt and Sportsmanship

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3017: Narendra Modi, Tony Abbott and Hugs at the G20

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2207: Body Language, Sincerity and Mahmoud Abbas United Nations grants Palestine "Non-member Observer State"

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2863: Gary Oldman's Apology on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" - Sincere or Insincere?

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2951: Miss America 2015 - Sincerity, Surprise and Botox

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3394: People react to being called beautiful - Body Language of a Sincere Smile  

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3214: Chris Pratt, Jurassic World, Bad Acting and a Body Language Red Flag  

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2357: Why is this Image so Sexy? Body Language of "Hide & Seek"