Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3656: Justin Gatlin, Usain Bolt and the 100 M Olympic Final — Body Language and Emotional Intelligence (PHOTO)
Justin Gatlin won the Gold medal at the Olympics in Athens in 2004 and the Bronze in London in 2012. He also was twice banned from his sport for performance enhancing drugs.
The image captured above was Gatlin’s facial expression as he entered the Olympic Stadium in Rio Sunday night. Gatlin was about to face off against the seven other fastest people on the planet — including his longtime rival Usain Bolt. For those who don’t follow track and field (aka “athletics” in Olympic jargon), Usain Bolt of Jamaica is considered to be the best sprinter in history — owning world records in the 100 meters (9.58 sec), the 200 metres (19.19 sec) and the 4 x 100 relay (36.84 sec).
From a nonverbal perspective, Justin Gatlin’s facial signals were not that of a confident athlete preparing for a performance on the World stage.
Note his forehead — it’s contracted and elevated across the entire width. His eyebrows are elevated and his eyelids are also opened wider than baseline. If we stopped here, this nonverbal cluster alone is not at all indicative of high confidence or emotional comfort.
Look further though — for Gatlin’s mouth is configured in what is known as a “Lateral Lip Purse”. This signals open (non-secretive) decision making mindset. It’s extremely commonly seen at the grocery store or when perusing a menu. But Gatlin’s not at a restaurant.
This is a very beta body language expression and moreover even facilitates lower confidence, lower emotional comfort and indecision. Justin Gatlin’s face is silently screaming, “I’m not comfortable in my own skin (at the moment) and I’m not sure what to do.”