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October 23, 2012
BERKELY, CA, Oct. 23,2012/ Troy Media/ – It was a night of competition: The conclusion of the National League Championship Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants and a Monday Night Football match up between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears.
But, of course, the biggest competition last night was for the votes of the American public. And it was the final time that a viewing audience would see the two U.S. Presidential candidates side-by-side.
The first debate was won by Mitt Romney – but in pure body language terms, he didn’t win it by much: The President’s downward gaze, jaw-tightening reactions, and obvious lack of physical energy were his worst nonverbal signals, making him look lethargic and unprepared. On the other hand, the Governor’s tight smile, his almost-too-large gestures, and his bouncing shoulders signaled energy that needed focus and control.
The body language contest in the second debate was won by Barack Obama, but again, not by much. In that debate, the candidates were in a town hall setting, and freed from the confinement of podiums, so we could see their entire bodies – which favored the President, whose energy was back up, and who did a good job of balancing aggressive moves (walking directly up to Romney and to the moderator) with conciliatory ones (breaking eye contact). Although the Governor’s nonverbal signals began strong, they soon became more tentative. He used more verbal fillers, had a stiffer walk, and let his hands drop to his side (especially as he tired toward the end of the debate).
Last night was the tie breaker. And by putting the two candidates behind a desk, and in effect hiding their lower bodies, it put all the focus on their facial expressions and a few gestures.
The President won.
President Barack Obama had the best combination of likeability and command cues. He looked more comfortable and sure of himself – using the definitive palm-down gestures and wide ‘steepling’ gestures that show certainty. And he has a great genuine smile (a big likeability cue) that he flashed a couple of times tonight.
Governor Romney did well too – and appeared to be more centred (no swaying or bouncing) than in the first debate. But he perspired, swallowed frequently, licked his lips, stammered, and (about 58 minutes into the debate) gave a slight shudder that showed in his shoulders and upper chest – all indicators that he was under a high level of stress.
I don’t know who the voters will choose as the next U.S. President, but my prediction (based solely on body language in these debates) is that Barack Obama will get another four years.
Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D. is an executive coach, change-management consultant, and international keynote speaker at corporate, government, and association events. To contact Carol about speaking or coaching, call 510-526-172 or email CGoman@CKG.com. To more information or to view videos, visit Carol’s website: http://www.SilentLanguageOfLeaders.com.
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