Joe Navarro

Inside Media: Body Language and the Body Politic

September 21, 2008

Guest: Joe Navarro

Pay close attention to the hand gestures of presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain. A politician's body language sometimes reveals how confident, nervous or sincere he or she is, according to former FBI profiler Joe Navarro.

"We assess people by how they present themselves, so we want to see the whole body, the face and the eyes,' said Navarro, author of "What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People.'

Analyzing the candidates' body language, Navarro described Obama as having "truly masterful nonverbals, and if you notice, he gesticulates a lot. Gov. Sarah Palin has a strong jaw. The chin is out, which is a sign of confidence.'

At the party conventions, Navarro said the running mates — McCain and Palin and Obama and Joe Biden — showed a sense of "harmony between two individuals. They were shoulder to shoulder, mirroring each other. One of the reasons there's been a spike [in enthusiasm] in the Republican Party is because of this harmony we're seeing.'

Navarro advises candidates who want to be seen as a bit more polished to lower their voices to get attention. On the list of things to avoid are "tightening the jaw' and what he calls "the disappearance of the lips.' "What you're transmitting is ‘I didn't like that.' It's hard to hide,' he said.

Touch is also significant. Candidates — and the rest of us — touch the stomach or chest to imply an issue is deeply felt.

"When it's really meaningful, we touch ourselves with a full palm. When it's not, we only touch with the fingertips. The brain is pretty involved in how we communicate,' Navarro said.

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