Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Body Language Analysis No. 4046: Melania Trump, Hurricane Harvey, and "Destroying Empathy 101" - Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Earlier today, President Trump and The First Lady visited Austin and Corpus Christi to meet with Governor Abbott, other local leaders, first responders, etc. - and to offer their support for the those suffering in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Melania Trump took a lot of internet heat for departing the White House in  six-inch heels - although, perhaps getting wind of this popular opinion, she changed into sneakers on Air Force One.

We can make the argument that the primary reason the President and the FLOTUS (a title which does not require the wearing of a written label), visited Texas was to be the national face of empathy.

There are are a myriad of ways to express and engender empathy. Yet, when in the context of nonverbal communication, the behavior which is the most crucial for displaying empathy is eye contact - a subject which itself has many branches of nuance. And yet there can be no true eye contact if sunglasses are worn. Aside from the very practical aspect of south Texas having 100% overcast skies of late - wearing sunglasses is deliberately distancing.

When on camera, being interviewed, or even if simply in view - wearing sunglasses, particularly when in such a highly visible leadership position - is a nonverbal double standard. It screams, "I get to look into your eyes (and your soul), but I'll keep mine under wraps - thank you very much." Using this deliberate barrier is a nonverbal manifestation of contempt. It elevates the wearer and lowers everyone else.

With the exception of a funeral or similar ceremonies, in the context of others' suffering, wearing sunglasses is emotionally cold. It's snooty. It's aloof. It's rapport destroying. A leader should be open, inviting, sincere - and yes, projecting empathy. Transmitting empathy without the use of one's eyes is profoundly difficult and always incomplete. This is not about style. This is not about fashion. This is about people. And if you want to tell a person (or a nation), "I care about you and your suffering" - do NOT wear sunglasses (even if it's sunny).

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See also:

Body Language Analysis No. 4045: Rex Tillerson Regarding Donald Trump, "The President Speaks for Himself"

Body Language Analysis No. 4043: Donald Trump Pardons Joe Arpaio - Contempt of Court and Red Flags

Body Language Analysis No. 4041: Former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak regarding Secrets from Donald Trump

Body Language Analysis No. 4039: Blue Angels, Surprise, Emotional Processing, and Empathy

Body Language Analysis No. 4026: Aubrey Plaza, Ingrid Goes West, and Emotional Intelligence

Body Language Analysis No. 4015: Reince Priebus' First Post-Resignation Interview

Body Language Analysis No. 3974: Elle Fanning, Robert De Niro, and Easter

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3924: French Presidential Front-Runner Emmanuel Macron

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3857: Taunting a Snowplow Driver - Belleville, Ontario - Body Language and Emotional Intelligence