Deception Detection In Non Verbals And Linguistics

Power handshakes and other election non verbals.

Handshakes are often our first and sometimes only point of contact we have with another person. How we do it, affects how we are perceived. The handshake has the power to leave an impression, so it is interesting watching how the election leaders approach this.



Turnbull tends to pull in Shorten when they shake hands to establish dominance. This can appear very negative if it's exaggerated as with Tony Abbott's aggressive hand jousting exhibition with Kevin Rudd.


Turnbull appears more subtle--



Although with Prince Charles, Malcolm Turnbull made no attempt at a power handshake:


Possibly the very worst handshake you could do, and one that almost always leaves a negative impression is referred to as the "Politicians Handshake" and and involves the left hand covering the handshake in a two handed gesture, in an attempt to appear more friendly.


As with Shorten's jacket-off-and -rolled-up-sleeves approach, it's manufactured to make him appear as friendly, one of the people, let's get to work look.

During the election campaign, Malcolm Turnbull has come across as more confident, competent and relaxed then Bill Shorten. Whereas Turnbull stands up straight and hold his head up, Shorten tucks his chin in, a sign of discomfort.


AS a small child, if you smelt something disgusting, you wrinkled you nose and pursed your lips. Thirty years later, if you read a contract or see something you don't like, you purse your lips again. The lip pursing is normally only a brief moment, but it's an extremely reliable cue for discomfort.

When there is tension or stress, we have tension in our mouth area, which results in the lips being "sucked" in, and extreme discomfort or stress can make the lips disappear completely. Look around the airport next time you fly, and watch people when a flight is cancelled. Again, this is a very reliable indicator of stress and discomfort.



Shorten hasn't been coached to control overt discomfort and stress cues because even the Press have picked up on this, exhibiting his most extreme displays:


http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/alex-ellinghausen-photographing-malcolm-turnbull-tony-abbott-and-bill-shorten-20151210-glkboq.html

During interviews and debates, Malcolm Turnbull has his non verbals mostly under control, ensuring that he looks confident. Confidence is correlated to perceived competence in studies, so it is critical that a leader appear confident.

He speaks with large open gestures showing the palms of his hands, he stands straight, he tends not to point, which is highly offensive for many people. Turnbull's large open gestures are contrasted with Shortens more closed approach....hands closer to the body and sometimes pointing.



Millions of years ago, when we didn't like what we saw or were intimidated, we would run away. Today in a business setting this translates to us leaning away from someone who says something we don't agree with. We lean back in our chair, are lean away, and in a more extreme case we turn our body away from what we don't like or agree with.

This is evident when you watch political debates, but it is another problem that Bill Shorten has. He turns away slightly or looks with a sideways glance. Covering or turning away, or "ventral denial" shows discomfort with what is being said or asked. An easy way to see this is to watch which direction the feet point. The feet point to where the body wants to go.

If you talk to a client and their foot points to the exit door, they need to go. Jury consultant Jo Ellen Demetrius cites a study of jury members --when jury members don't like a witness, they face the witness but their feet point to the exit door.

So watch where the body (use the belly button as a directional indicator) points, and be aware of the more subtle version of feet pointing away.


Bill Shorten is not fairing well with his display of non verbals during this election campaign. I'll look at the verbals of the leaders in the next post.

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