Thursday 18 December 2014

Joan's body language foretells bumpy ride ahead for Enda

Published 13/07/2014 | 02:30

Enda Kenny, Joan Burton and the Cabinet
Enda Kenny, Joan Burton and the Cabinet

One of the world's leading body language experts predicts fireworks in Government between Joan Burton and Enda Kenny.

Behavioural psychologist and former Oxford Don Dr Peter Collett analysed the official photograph of the new Cabinet released by the Government Information Service.

He says it shows Joan Burton as a woman apart - not in sync with Mr Kenny or indeed other members of the reshuffled Cabinet.

And she and Enda Kenny will never enjoy the solid working relationship the Taoiseach had with Eamon Gilmore.

"This photograph is a gift because it tells us so much. Joan Burton looks like she has been photoshopped into the image. She is completely out of tune with everyone else.

"If you look at other members of the Cabinet, they are all looking at the camera with the understandable exception of Enda Kenny who, as leader, is trying to look both authoritative and busy. Note also, the Taoiseach has his arms by his side which is a sign of seriousness and respect as do all the other members of the Cabinet, with the exception of the Tanaiste.

"The Cabinet are smiling with the exception of Ms Burton and Mr Kenny. That is what you would expect of Mr Kenny as leader and the 'Alpha' figure.

As we know 'Alphas' characteristically smile less than members of their troop," Dr Collett observed.

He says Joan Burton, 
looking away from the camera, is creating a very strong impression she is uninterested and not engaged.

Her arms appear to be clasped behind her back - "a 'high status'" gesture which says that she has no need to be vigilant or to defend herself from symbolic attack.

"Not only is Ms Burton not smiling but her expression is one of 'disgust,'" he suggests.

"The corners of her mouth are turned down, her cheeks pulled up. It's a facial expression not dissimilar to the one that could often be seen on the face of Tony Blair when he was in the presence of Gordon Brown.

"Overall Joan Burton is sticking out like a sore thumb. She does not appear to be on the same wavelength as the rest of the Cabinet.

Dr Collett who wrote the best-selling The Book of Tells says the new Labour leader appears removed, distant and out of synch.

"If this photograph is representative, it augurs badly for the Coalition," he concludes.

"Contrast this first official photograph of Ms Burton and Mr Kenny with the image of the Taoiseach and Eamon Gilmore taken around the time they were marking 100 days in Government. Notice that they are very close together. What is interesting here is the way the two men are performing the same act, both with their hands politely touching their face," he notes.

"The fact that their bodies are echoing each other shows that they were on the same wavelength. In spite of their ideological differences they were attempting to pull in the same direction. How very different from the photograph of Joan Burton and Enda Kenny. We are in for a bumpy ride," he says.

Sunday Independent

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