By April 12, 2018

Facebook Hearing

Mark Zuckerberg at Congress hearing

As Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, faced his hearing on the tough questions of data leak and user privacy, friends pinged me to know about his body signals reveal about his thoughts, while he addressed the Congress.

Here are a few takeaways:

  1. He has been prepped on body language with high probability. This we know from the following
    • He is wearing the right type of clothes to inspire trust – dark blue suit. The formal attire is unlike what he usually wears, but is apt for the occasion and his counterparts whom he is facing.
    • He does a remarkable job of being aware of his body’s stress reactions, and controls them really well, making it difficult for the audience to know what stresses him.
    • He minimises the use of his hands while speaking. This minimal use of hands probably comes from the fact that a lot of use, while using our hands to gesture, also then start using the hands to comfort ourselves by touch when we feel stressed, like fiddling with ring, touching the neck area and so on. In fact, there is a time during the testimony when Zuckerberg feels the need to scratch his nose, and hesitates atleast twice before bringing his hand anywhere close to his face.
  2. We see a lot of compressed lips which suggests points where he is fighting his stress of facing the tough questions.
  3. However, there is one more important giveaway, one that other observers have missed. The fact that physiological reactions are difficult to control. Notice how his ears become noticeably red during the tougher questions, or those where he does not get enough space to justify himself. This is due to the fact that his body is trying to help fight back the stress by sending blood flow to a particular part of the body feeling stressed. A look at other times during the testimony, and his other interviews, reveals that his “neutral” face does not have reddened ears to the extent visible during times of stress, as in the picture below.
  4. When a highly stressful question is answered, as happens with a lot of interview candidates, he lets out a sigh. This helps cool the body down. Here is one such picture, taken from the instance after he clarifies that Facebook does not tap into your phone conversations, and he clarifies it pretty exhaustively.
  5. His ability to give out relaxed smiles time and again is remarkable, given the amount of scrutiny that he is facing. Mark here that these are not smiles of contempt, neither is the smile controlled and tensed, which is why it works in his favour.
  6. While listening to any question, he acknowledges the Congressman by nodding from time to time, at the point when he is ready with his answer, while he waits for the Congressman to finish speaking, you see him break eye contact and shift in his seat, indicating his readiness to answer.
  7. His answers, according to me, are pretty well thought out, relevant and crisp. He has heard the questions really well.
  8. What about the other side of the hearing? Do the Congressmen acknowledge his responses? Some of them do a very poor job of actually listening to what he is saying!
Read #bodylanguage analysis of #FacebookCEO #MarkZuckerberg during #CongressHearing #FacebookHearing #FacebookDataLeaks Click To Tweet

What are your thoughts?

Note: The above analysis does not mean I agree with Zuckerberg’s answers or undermine the issue of data privacy. The observations are to objectively highlight the individual’s behaviour under a highly stressful interaction.

Image courtesy: Cnet, CNBC, CBC

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Posted in: Personalities

About the Author:

Khyati Bhatt has trained for mastery in Nonverbal Communication with retired FBI special agent Joe Navarro. She founded Simply Body Talk in 2013 to help individuals and corporates fine tune their nonverbal behavior and nonverbal communication. Khyati believes in taking a scientific approach to body language. Her experience as a wealth manager, currency trader, and family entrepreneur has helped sharpen her nonverbal instincts. She is a fervent reader and has explored the work of many psychologists and anthropologists in her field of work.

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