Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Body Language Analysis No. 4179: Senator Dick Durbin questions Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen - Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Dick Durbin, who was also present in the now infamous meeting last Thursday in the Oval Office, questioned Secretary Nielsen. What follows is a partial nonverbal, verbal, and paralanguage analysis of their exchange.

DICK DURBIN (beginning at 2:34): You said on Fox News, "the President used strong language" - what was that strong language?

KIRSTJEN NIELSEN: Ahhh (pseudo-exasperated exhale), let's see - strong language - there Ω was - ahhh - I (stutter) apologies - I don't remember specific word - ahhh - what I was struck with frankly - as I'm sure you were as well - was just the general - ahhh profanity that was used in the room by almost everyone - ahhh and -

DICK DURBIN: Did you hear me use profanity?

KIRSTJEN NIELSEN: No sir, neither did I.

• Note the exhaling "Ahhh" Secretary Nielsen exhibits at the beginning of her answer (2:39 - 2:40) is hyperbolic/melodramatic - as if she were considering this question for the first time.

• The use of "let's see": "let's" is a form of diffusion of responsibility/lack of personal responsibility and is also what is known as "forced teaming" (de Becker) - and is very commonly used when manipulation/deception overlaps with patronizing behavior (Another similar phrase is, "How are we doing?" rather than, "How are you doing?").

• Repeating part of the question ("strong language") at the beginning of an answer - This is extremely commonly exhibited during deception - for it gives the liar additional time to formulate a lie.

• The sentence fragment, "I (stutter) apologies" - was a last-second avoidance of the phrase "I apologize" - representing a momentary slip and then a readjustment/distancing from ownership/responsibility. The word "Apologies" in this context is also a colloquial - detracting from the gravity of testifying before a Senate committee. Such informality has the effect of up-regulating her alpha status (and down-regulating Senator Durbin's) in this setting.

• "I don't remember the specific word" - The qualifying use of the word "specific" is itself a tremendous red flag for deception. Moreover, that Secretary Nielsen knew many other specifics - e.g., including that Senator Durbin did not swear - and with the entire focus of the Oval Office always on the President - it stretches any credulity to the extreme for her to say she doesn't remember.

• The use of the word "frankly" is a profoundly valuable paralanguage tell. With rare exception, it betrays the presence of hidden agenda, insincerity, and deception.

• While many people in the Oval Office meeting last Thursday may have indeed used profanity, that's not the question Senator Durbin asked her. Additionally, her calling attention to others' behavior is a very common manipulation/propaganda technique commonly referred to as "Whataboutism" (aka "Whataboutery").

Secretary Nielson displays two rapid expressions of contempt during 2:42 (a microexpression just before she says, "was" and notated in the above dialog with the symbol Ω ) and during 2:43 (a subtle expression/near-microexpression simultaneous with "ahhh" - and highlighted in red font). The image immediately above captures the second of these two contempt displays. This signals Secretary Nielson's resent for being questioned before the Senate and/or by Senator Durbin.

At multiple times during this testimony, Secretary Nielsen smiled out-of-context. The first example shown in this analysis occurred during 2:47 in the above video, and, although initially partially suppressed, it crescendos throughout her sentence, "... I (stutter) apologies - I don't remember specific word - ahhh ..."

The second smiling out of context display in this exchange was also initially suppressed but then gave way to a full smile during 2:55 at the end of the sentence, "... what I was struck with frankly - as I'm sure you were as well - was just the general - ahhh profanity that was used in the room by almost everyone - ahhh and -".

The act of smiling during almost any testimony is ill-advised. Given Donald Trump's recent highly controversial Oval Office meeting - and the tremendous negative attention/ramifications it has garnered in the last several days - the best case scenario is that smiling in such contexts signals a smugness/arrogance. However, thin-slicing the Secretary's behavior further - such smiling out-of-context is a form of duping delight. This is particularly true here - as with both of these examples, her smiles were initially are suppressed - but then became fully expressed. Her presumed confidence/smugness was, in actuality, an ad-lib ruse/camouflage - a failed act of concealing her true emotions (not unlike coughing a split-second after flatulence).

Summary: Secretary Nielsen's verbal, nonverbal, and paralanguage behavior during this interview were extremely indicative of deception.

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See also:

Body Language Analysis No. 4178: Donald Trump, "I'm the Least Racist Person", DACA ... and Kevin McCarthy's Anxiety

Body Language Analysis No. 4176: Donald Trump's "Shit Countries" Comment, Emmanuel Mensah, and Alisyn Camerota

Body Language Analysis No. 4174: Donald Trump Regarding Meeting with Robert Mueller

Body Language Analysis No. 4172: Donald Trump During National Anthem at Alabama vs. Georgia College Football Game 

Body Language Analysis No. 4164: Emmanuel Macron's Rapport Destroyer 

Body Language Analysis No. 4149: Zendaya, Zac Efron, and "The Greatest Showman"

Body Language Analysis No. 4135: What Makes Markle's Eyes Sparkle? 

Body Language Analysis No. 4088: Kit Harington's April Fools' Prank on Rose Leslie 

Body Language Analysis No. 4047: Joel Osteen, Houston, and Hurricane Harvey