Lida Citroën reveals body language insights from election debates

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Politicians typically use body language techniques to influence and persuade voters. Here, a reputation management expert weighs in on several body language mis-fires during recent debates and the unintended consequences of their behavior.

“Politicians are typically highly-trained to conceal certain feelings and bring others forward. They are keenly aware that they are judged not only by what they say but also how they say it,” notes Citroën.

With the elections nearing and televised debates viewed by tens of millions of viewers around the world, much of the information communicated by the candidates is non-verbal. Reputation management specialis t and author of Reputation 360: Creating power through personal branding, Lida Citroën, notes body language secrets used to manage perception and influence audiences. Citroën weighs in on key body language secrets deployed by politicians.

“Politicians are typically highly-trained to conceal certain feelings and bring others forward. They are keenly aware that they are judged not only by what they say but also how they say it,” notes Citroën.

Citroën notes that both presidential candidates appear sensitive to and intentional about their use of eye contact. In the first presidential debate in Denver, President Obama was chastised for his lack of empathy and attention because he neglected to look his opponent squarely in the eye. Eye contact is an intimate gesture that signifies respect to one’s opponent. President Obama scored negative points for his apparent disregard and apathy for the forum and the discussion.

Similarly, Governor Romney’s raising his eyebrows and the pitch of his voice when flustered or excited can indicate to viewers that he is less than confident in his message. Often, candidates are trained to keep their eyebrows steady and to end their sentences in a confirming, authoritative down-tone, so as not to appear to be unsure or asking a question.

In the vice presidential debate, it was Vice President Joe Biden’s smirking and laughing which cast a negative perception among many Republican supporters. His behavior was perceived as mocking and disrespectful and earned him disfavor. Likewise, his opponent, Congressman Ryan, displayed deference in trying to manage his debate partner, causing some viewers to feel he was trying to keep his composure instead of argue a point.

In the second presidential debate, we saw candidates sit, stand, approach each other and raise their voices in apparent frustration and anger. All the while, they recited facts and figures, stories and examples to illustrate their key points. Viewers across social media noted the body language more than the message, making it a challenge for political advisors across the board.

ABOUT LIDA CITROEN
A recognized speaker, writer and chief marketing officer, Lida Citroën has been helping businesses, executives and thought leaders develop their compelling brand value for more than 20 years. As founder and principal of LIDA360, she helps her clients tap into their brand assets to produce competitive differentiation strategies, increasing success and reducing costs by improving brand authenticity, consistency and integration. Citroen is the author of the best selling book, "Reputation 360: Creating power through personal branding" (Palisades Publishing, 2011). Visit http://www.LIDA360.com for more information or call 720-840-3388.

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Lida Citroen
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