Why you felt Professor Kelly's discomfort, as his children interrupted his BBC interview.

I'm sure many of you saw South Korea expert Professor Robert Kelly's reaction to the unexpected interruption by his children, live on air, as he was interviewed by the BBC. I'm also sure that you sensed the discomfort he experienced as it happened. But do you know why? Do you know exactly what you saw in Professor Kelly's nonverbal cues that caused you to sense his discomfort? If I asked you to rewatch it and tell me what you saw, I believe, wholeheartedly, that you could identify it. But if I asked you to tell me what you saw, just moments after watching it, with no prior notice, would you be able to tell me what you saw? I doubt it. My point is, that we pick up on nonverbal communication cues at a subconscious level, which results in a gut feeling. We're rarely aware of what exactly we saw, to lead us there. In this case, the gut feeling was pretty solid. Before I tell you why, see if you can spot the one very obvious nonverbal cue that gives Professor Kelly's discomfort away. What is it?

Did you spot it? It was an eye blocking behaviour, it looks like a long blink. We usually see it in isolation, in this case, we saw it repeated nine times! That's why the gut feeling of discomfort was so solid, you (your subconscious brain) couldn't miss it. Watch it again and you'll notice that each time it happens, the behaviour is in direct response to a stimulus. For example, the second child entering the room, the sound of his wife's realisation of the situation, his wife entering the room, then after that, each stimulus is elevated noise, even after they have left the room and the door is closed.

Adults eye block with their eyelids when faced with something they don't like, while children tend to cover their eyes with their hands, a more blatant nonverbal display of dislike. This is an innate nonverbal response and we know this by observing it in congenitally blind children. As we grow up, we learn to conceal our emotions by modifying our nonverbal behaviour, which is why we usually see eye blocking with the eyelids in adults. Imagine seeing Professor Kelly covering his eyes with his hands, in this situation it would have looked a little odd.

Sometimes when we have a gut feeling about someone's true feelings, we're not sure if our gut feeling is correct or not, in this case, there is little doubt because we saw the nonverbal behaviour amplified, we saw it nine times; his discomfort was obvious. Understanding nonverbal communication cues and practising to observe them assists us in backing up our gut feeling when we see less obvious nonverbal displays. For example, if someone is trying to conceal their true emotions, as we all often do, to fit in with social norms, the cues are present but less obvious. When we know exactly what we observed and can place that within context, it's no longer a gut feeling, it's an observation and realisation of an emotion; a TRUE emotion. If you're interested in learning more about reading nonverbal cues, let's talk!