Nonverbal Communication Analysis №3858: Milo Yiannopoulos resigns from Breitbart with “Apology” — Body Language and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
On Tuesday Milo Yiannopoulos resigned from Breitbart News. Two days earlier a video of an interview of Yiannopoulos by Joe Rogan surfaced on social media and various websites. In this interview, Yiannopoulos very clearly defended pedophilia and pedophiles. Subsequently, Yiannopoulos has had his invitation to speak at the currently ongoing Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) rescinded- and he’s also lost a book deal he had had with Simon & Schuster.
A portion of Yiannopoulos’ “apology” is included within the above video. What follows is a nonverbal analysis with some additional discussion of its verbal content.
To begin with, Yiannopoulos should not be reading anything. A sincere apology is never read from a script. For if it is written by an attorney or anyone else (as this clearly was) — or if it is not spoken from the heart (no script needed), then it is by definition, insincere.
A very blatant and obvious verbal display of Yiannopoulos’ insincerity is evidenced toward the end of this video when he blames others for his own actions, “… But let’s be clear what is happening here. This is a cynical media witch hunt from people who don’t care about children. They care about destroying me and my career, and by extension my allies…”
A profound body language mistake one makes when reading to an audience is dramatically diminished eye contact. Many novice speakers — who otherwise may have deep knowledge and extensive experience in their given area of expertise — will become obsessed with following scripts. The result of this tactic is poor quality speaking — while their audience perceives them to be no such expert (only exceeding boring). Lack of eye contact during an apology is strong evidence of guilt and insincerity. And while lack of eye contact can also signal shame, in order to do so — and this is an absolute — it must be accompanied by other signals (none of which are present here).
Looking over your glasses while speaking to anyone (even an audience of one) is extremely patronizing — and Yiannopoulos clearly knows this. You may recall the colloquial, I felt like he was ‘looking down’ at me — or remember a particularly harsh teacher reprimanding you in your younger years (e.g., the quintessential ‘schoolmarm’). Looking over one’s glasses while speaking (depending on the other nonverbals with which it is clustered) is often a manifestation of contempt — not sincerity or shame.
Never once during this “apology” does Yiannopoulos make an expression indicative of empathy or remorse which is required in such scenarios when sincerity is present. Empathy for another person’s pain (emotional or physical) is characterized by an Elevated Central Forehead Contraction (Elevated CFC) accompanied by a simultaneous mouth of sadness (lips mildly protruding with the corners of the mouth down-turned).
You may notice at multiple times, the entire width of Yiannopoulos’ forehead became momentarily elevated — but never just the central forehead. This difference is profound and cannot be over-stated — for the over-use (over-contraction, with respect to both frequency and amplitude) of the full width of the forehead (without a ‘sad mouth’) is the single most common signal of insincerity — and this is also exactly the facial configuration that Yiannopoulos was projecting.
The only two times Yiannopoulos displayed regret in this video was at the beginning — immediately after he said, “…which is why today I am resigning from Breitbart, effective immediately…”[regret expression], in the image immediately above at 0:07 and ….
…again just after he said, “I haven’t ever apologized before” [regret expression] during 1:03, image immediately above.
Thus Yiannopoulos regrets having to apologize as well as from resigning from Breitbart — but, in this video, gives no evidence of another reason for regret.
Another tremendous nonverbal tell of insincerity, repeatedly displayed by Yiannopoulos’ was a “Loose Tongue Jut” (aka “Lizard Tongue”) as is seen above (from 0:38). The loose tongue jut indicates the thought-emotion of “I got caught” (Navarro). This is not to be confused with a “Tight Tongue Jut” which means an entirely different thing.
Most people will notice Yiannopoulos’ repeated, quick, jerking forward motion of his head-neck and torso (Please view the video for this, as a still image does not capture the dynamics). This is an analog of the over-contracted forehead muscles behavior described above. It’s an epiphenomenon of the lack of his sincerity — for because he doesn’t feel any of the emotions which he’s professing with his words (a verbal-nonverbal disparity) — this excessive motion/over-compensatory behavior arises (somewhat similar to shouting when a person doesn’t speak the same language).
Summary: Milo Yiannopoulos’ nonverbal behavior in the video above indicates his “apology” was insincere.
This post and the associated website serve as reference sources for the art and science of Body Language/Nonverbal Communication. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author. In an effort to be both practical and academic, many examples from/of varied cultures, politicians, professional athletes, legal cases, public figures, etc., are cited in order to teach and illustrate both the interpretation of others’ body language as well as the projection of one’s own nonverbal skills in many different contexts — not to advance any political, religious or other agenda.