Thursday, June 11, 2009

In Italian Trial, the non-verbals will count

Is it Amanda Knox or Foxy Knoxy?

12 year old Seattle honor student is on trial for murder in Perugia, Italy.

Compare the lead photo on with the one you are lead to from Newsweek here.

I don't know about you, but from looking at the photos, I would have a completely different "impression" of Ms. Knox depending upon which one I was shown.

The article on Newsweek (link above) is full of the importance of impression and nonverbal communication. Would this be moreso in a country that is relatively more right-brained, like Italy? You be the judge. But the nonverbals matter in any courtroom in any country. That's why lawyers study it, why there are mock trials, why there are experts who 'prepare' witnessess, and why there are expert witnesses called to testify. The jury watches carefully, listens carefully, forms opinions beyond what is said, what is termed in the article, "nonjudicial factors."

Examples from the article:

Murder suspect Amanda Knox has a lot of explaining to do. But what she says may not be as important as how she says it.

Says Alessandra Batassa, a criminal-defense lawyer in Rome who has served on defense teams in similar crimes. "The court will be absolutely influenced by nonjudicial factors like her demeanor. Her image has been painted in a very bad light in the trial so far, so she has to portray that she has normal sexual relationships and that she is just a normal girl. She has to be very convincing."

At times she is indignant, answering questions with her own questions.

... she is either serious or arrogant

... waffled between confidence and calamity

The article ends:

She will almost surely be less cavalier this time, as her lawyers prepare her for what will be a grueling day. The jury will be listening attentively, but more important, they will be watching her every move.

If you'd like to increase your understanding of emotional intelligence and nonverbal communication, take the EQ Course or sign up for EQ coaching. Email for more information.

P.S. How would someone portray that she is "just a normal girl"? Share your comments.

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