Body Language

In the scene in Atlas Shrugged where Jim Taggart was introduced, Ayn Rand wrote, “James Taggart seldom raised his head; when he looked at people, he did so by lifting his heavy eyelids and staring upward from under the expanse of his bald forehead.”

I was immediately reminded of that scene the other day, as I watched South Carolina’s Senator DeMint question Tim Geightner, Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury. Geightner appears to habitually hold a posture similar to Taggart’s. As he speaks, his head tilts down. He looks up from under his brow, with his forehead creased by multiple wrinkles. When a desk or podium is present, he tends to use it for support, bent forward and resting his elbows on it while making his hand gestures.

As an experiment, try assuming this posture Notice how you feel in this position. Do you feel confident, outgoing, optimistically eager to take on and solve problems? Or do you feel threatened, fearful, expecting to be disapproved of, or even attacked?

For examples (from different situations), see:

I have been too long away from the clinical psychology field to know what an expert at interpreting body language might say. And I only saw Geightner in this one admittedly uncomfortable situation — Sen. DeMint was asking him questions he was clearly unprepared for. I believe, though, that personality shows up in one’s habitual posture and approach to the world, and that Ayn Rand may have captured much of Geightner’s personality in her descriptions of Jim Taggart.

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