Tuesday, 8 May 2012

So... The Rose Garden 2

I love to analyse the different types of body language used on occasions like this. I wonder to what extent politicians practice/are trained in the use of different gestures. You'll notice, for example, that some gestures are never used - the ones called barrier gestures, like folding the arms, clasping hands in front of the body or in front of the genitals. This means you want protection from your audience, for the sensitive parts of your body like your heart. Politicians seem trained not to do that. So what did we see today?
Nick Clegg used a lot of baton signals. These are used to emphasise speech, in time to the rhythm of our thoughts. This is what I think, and this and this! Now Nick didn't use a lot of pointing gestures today; because apparently this can be interpreted as a sign of hostility or domination. I saw Nick use a lot of hand extensions, where the hands are out in front of the body in a rather neutral gesture; palms down suggesting restraint and Palms held to the side as if to shake hands. It is used to bridge the gap between speaker and listener; to reach out and negotiate. Similarly, his fingers were spread out in fan-like shape for negotiation. He used a more aggressive downward fist once for emphasis. Also in response to a question, he used a hand scissor -both hands moving outwards from a crossed position, to repel hostility.
All in all, not a bad performance from somebody who wanted to get their point across.
David Cameron was surprisingly more nervous, clasping his hands in front of him like a comforting barrier at least once, covering his chin and touching his hair (hair grooming) to check it. Definitely nervous.
He was very accomplished in the use of baton signals, to emphasise his thoughts and reassure his audience, extending his hands, palms down and to the sides a great deal. He used fan gestures like Nick and even a couple of reassuring thumbs up gestures. There was also slightly more aggression, with downward fist and hand chop gestures, suggesting he wants his ideas to cut through the confusion of the situation.
On the whole, a fair performance, but he's definitely showing signs of stress.
                                   David covering his chin and crossing arms protectively.
Nick using a hand purse gesture to emphasise exactly the fine point he is making.

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