Sunday, February 05, 2012

Body Language Article - Giving the game away (Irish Independent)

WHEN A PICTURE PAINTS A THOUSAND WORDS
John Meagher says there is more to political snap-shots than first meets the eye.


On the face of it, it's a moment of levity amid the sobering meetings on the future of the euro. French President Nicolas Sarkozy playfully ruffles the back of Enda Kenny's hair. The Taoiseach is photographed sporting a schoolboy grin. For all the world, it could be two old friends sharing a joke.

But Rowan Manahan, a Dublin-based body language expert and corporate speechwriter, sees it differently. "It's essentially the dominant primate letting the subordinate primate know who's in charge."


"Sarkozy may well like Enda on a personal level, but it is a condescending gesture that says, 'be a good boy now, Irishman, and do what you're told'. I couldn't imagine the roles being reversed in that photo. It's almost as if Enda knows his place. It's no wonder that the Opposition got mileage out of it," he says.

Gerry Adams took particular interest in the snap, which was splashed on the front page of the Irish Independent -- and other newspapers -- on Tuesday. "It is inappropriate for a Taoiseach to act like an eejit when he meets the French president," he said.

His comments led to an angry exchange in the Dáil, with Kenny taunting Adams about being "buddy-buddy with some very shadowy creatures over the past 30 years".
...

Manahan says today's political leaders have to be cognisant of how snapshots of them can be interpreted -- or misinterpreted. "Look at the photo of Mitt Romney that did the rounds a few weeks back," he says. "He appeared to be getting a shoe-shine. There he was looking smug and important, and some guy was bending down to care for his shoes. It wasn't exactly the sort of image a 'man of the people' would want to convey and I can't believe his advisers didn't realise how damaging such a photo would seem."

The photo -- featuring the Republican hopeful seated on the tarmac near his private jet and with a cowering figure attending to his footwear -- caused outrage in the US. By the time it was clarified that Romney was, in fact, having his shoes scanned by an airport security official, the damage had already been done.

Full article here.


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