Body Language Breakdown of VP Debate

One of the big stories on the campaign trail today is how the vice presidential candidates did in their debates last night. It was the first chance for most people to really see them in action. And while they each made many points, let's take a look at what they didn't say.

A stark difference is the way both men handle disagreements. Senator Tim Kaine pointed with index finger and used his pen to point/stab in the air. You point when you're angry, disapprove or dislike something. Kaine uses his eyebrows to emphasis certain key points. When he disagreed with Pence, he gave a look of skepticism and doubt with the raised left eyebrow.

Governor Mike Pence, on the other hand, handled disagreements subtly. His body language was subdued, which matched his tone of voice (even, calm). To show his authority, he used a palm down gesture. Pence has a perpetual eye squint, which suggests that he's blocking things out that he doesn't like or that are negative. The problem is that he does this constantly.

Both candidates have been criticized for lacking charisma. In last night's debate, both men increased their likability factor in my opinion. Pence's calm demeanor and tone of voice and Kaine's illustrative hand gestures and smile are nonverbal examples. Although, at times, Kaine's smile was tight and came across as insincere.

Are the VP Candidates A Good Match For Their Presidential Running Mates?

The vice presidential candidates stole the spotlight when they faced off in their first and only debate last night. Many times when considering someone for vice president, people tend to focus on whether or not they're a good match with their running mate.

As we've already seen in this race, there are times when the vice president will have to explain and support what the president says. But how do we know if the VP really believes what their running mate is saying.

During controversial topics of what their running mates said, both Governor Mike Pence clasped his hands and rubbed his fingers together. This behavior is known as a self-soothing behavior, which is when one part of your body touches another part of your body in order to provide comfort. Senator Tim Kaine tended to play with his pen, more specifically, he twirled the pen. Again, this is a self-soothing behavior. It's a way for Kaine to manipulate the environment to regain control.

In terms of nonverbal communication, the VP candidates are a good match to for their running mates. They're the "ying" to their running mates "yang". Kaine's feisty disposition demonstrates his ability to have Clinton's back. His alpha tendencies will support Clinton. Unfortunately, Clinton will struggle with perception of being a strong leader as a woman, but Kaine won't back down in his support of her. Trump's style is alpha; sometimes over the top dominance. Pence has a subtle dominance as evidenced in the way he uses space, hand gestures and his subdued demeanor. You might get the sense of his authority, but may not actually see the obvious signs of dominance. Pence, in my opinion, is a hybrid of alpha and beta demeanors.

Share your thoughts with me on Twitter at @blancacobb. Remember to use the hash tag #BlancaOn2. Or, you can find me on my facebook page.

Blanca Cobb is a WFMY News 2 Contributing Editor, body language expert and keynote speaker/trainer who covers nonverbal communication, psychology and behavior. Follow her @blancacobb. The opinions expressed in this article are exclusively hers.

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