Thursday, October 2, 2008

2008 Leaders Debate - Analysis of Hand Movements & Gestures

Federal election time is here again in Canada. As usual I'll be observing and commenting on the party leaders' hand movements and gestures during their English language debates.

Report on the October 2 Leaders Debate:

This debate was rather painful to watch. Powerful individuals seeking the office of Prime Minister of Canada, but each with hand movements and gestures that were very negative, weak, deceptive, or all three.

Stephen Harper (Conservative)

Harper's hand movements and gestures have improved dramatically since the last election in 2006. He rarely used the (very negative) extended index finger gesture anymore - Far different to watch than last election.

His hand movements and gestures continued to show distinct personality weaknesses, however. His thumbs fell inside the hands easily and repeatedly (showing broken will, and not thinking for himself), and the left hand was held dominant when clasping his hands and interlacing the fingers (showing self-limiting attitudes and behaviors).

Stephane Dion (Liberal)

Dion's hand movements made it clear in the opening few minutes that his entire position on this election debate is "We have a plan." Each time he mentioned "the plan", his hands were being held about 10 inches apart as if he was holding a ball (shows a single or core issue).

When clasping his hands with fingers interlaced, Dion positioned his left hand on top, or dominant (self-limiting attitudes and behaviors).

Jack Layton (NDP)

Layton once again showed very scripted and practiced hand movements and gestures. He rarely moved any finger on its own, but rather kept them together and extended with open hands. Normally this would be considered a very positive and powerful way to gesture, but that is certainly not the case when it's just an obvious facade. Occasionally his fingers could be seen to move in natural gestures, and more than once that natural gesture was the extended index finger with the thumb contracted inside the hand (shows rampant Ego and placing blame on others, with no acceptance of personal responsibility).

Gilles Duceppe (Bloc)

Duceppe's hand movements and gestures were by far the worst of all the 5 debating leaders. His resting hand position was frequently held with fingers interlaced and left hand dominant (self-limiting attitudes and behaviors), and one of his most common gestures was waving and pointing the extended index finger (rampant Ego, placing blame on others, and no acceptance of personal responsibility).

Elizabeth May (Green Party)

May was the only party leader whose hand movements and gestures were basically natural and honest, rather than practiced and scripted. Unfortunately they were not strong and positive gestures. Everything from the "patting on the head" gesture (condescending or treating others like children), to the extended index finger being pointed at others. On the plus side, when she extended her index finger she usually had the thumb extended with it (still shows rampant Ego, but at least with some acceptance of personal responsibility).


Based solely on their hands, the debate winner was clearly Jack Layton, with Elizabeth May running a distant 2nd. Layton's gestures may have been practiced and scripted, and also weak and without personal responsibility, but at least an effort to use positive hand movements was there. If he continues to use positive hand positions and gestures, perhaps the strength and integrity usually shown by his hands will spread to the rest of his life and personality, and not remain just a facade.