Stephen Harper unmasked

FAITH WOOD/Guest Columnist

It’s an age old phrase that many people use –“You shouldn’t talk about religion or politics.” Why is that? The obvious answer is that these discussions are ripe for conflict.

Discussions on politics (like religious beliefs) have a way of initiating stiff arguments and tense judgments, and can even pit family members against one another if the beliefs are held passionately enough. But does that really mean we should ignore these potentially volatile topics altogether? Because of their great importance, shouldn’t that be more reason to discuss them lovingly and with great respect? Can’t we speak passionately and come out on opposite ends of an issue while still being friends?

A fresh, new perspective on the leaders

If I’ve done my homework and I am confident in my beliefs, I’m not going to be offended at hearing an opposing perspective, am I? We can ultimately disagree, but neither of us should be offended if we are confident in our position. Should we? Well, I say why risk it? Rather than getting into a discussion about who is the better candidate or which party has Canadian’s best interests at heart, I wanted to offer up a fresh new perspective on our political candidates. Instead of listening to the typical party lines (all those practiced speeches that someone else is writing for them anyway), let’s start muting the volume and watching the unconscious intentions of each candidate. It’s like a big reveal! Tah Dah…here is what I am thinking in private…

Since Stephen Harper is the guy currently in the top spot, let’s start with him and see if we can unearth a little about what his unconscious gestures are shouting out to the world.

Harper has a habit of using the parental finger wag, constantly admonishing his audience to make a point. (Check out: ttp:// and What he appears to be saying is: “This is important. This is very important. Listen to me. If I have to drum it into your head, I will. I know what’s good for all of you. I know what all of you need. And if you don’t agree with me, well then you aren’t worth considering.”

Along with shaking his head in a totally dismissive manner, his facial expression – lips curling down like an umbrella – demonstrates a certain aloofness; in other words, he comes across as above it all and looking down on everyone else. He waves his hand dismissively and then pushes his glasses up (a sign of nervousness…or his glasses may actually be slipping down), saying, in essence: “I’m pushing my glasses up because I need to make a point, but I’m so much better than everyone they’ll never understand it anyway.”

All too often, he looks bored and irritated – an unconscious clue that what he really wants is to get out of there. His body says the same thing – shoulder down toward the exit, indicating a desire to flee the scene. He comes across as being incredibly unapproachable, a little bit like Prince Charles. His body language is saying that we should all know that he’s the best person for the job and shouldn’t question. He’s above having to explain it to the proletariat. He truly believes that there is no compulsion on his part to do so.

He does have a positive side

On the positive side, Harper does appear at ease much of the time. When he is not making hand gestures, his arms are hanging loosely at his side (although he does occasionally put one hand in a pocket – a definite No-No). When gesturing, his hands are wide apart (indicating openness) and his gestures are open, with upward facing palms (a sign of honesty and sincerity). While his visual kinesthetic communication style could use some polishing, he does work on maintaining eye contact with audience members, rather than looking over them. He stands straight and does not slouch (which is a body position that gives the impression of something to hide).

Unfortunately, he is really, really big on that old finger-pointing gesture. And most of us, simply don’t respond well to being poked. Do we?

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