On December 2nd, 2022, several students protested funding cuts and tuition hikes by presenting Memorial University President Vianne Timmons with a pink slip. After the peaceful protest, Chief Risk Officer Greg McDougall confronted members of the MUN Students’ Union who were involved in the protest. McDougall seemed to be trying to portray himself very sternly to the protestors. He failed.
McDougall did not look comfortable in the video. In fact, I think he looked insecure. His body language in front of the students may have shown how he really felt. My analysis is that, in addition to crossing his arms, he even crossed his legs at one instance. Also there were points where McDougall seem to be biting his lips, holding his hands and walking away from the conversation at the same time.
I have researched what those mannerisms usually mean and here is what I found that, in my opinion, may be applicable to the situation:
Regarding holding his own hands, on changingminds.org under hand body language, it states, “hands may also hold the self, such as when people hold their own hands, typically for comfort. Wringing the hands indicates more extreme nervousness. Holding the self can also be an act of restraint.”
Tutorialspoint.com states that “The standing leg cross is a body gesture of defiance, defensiveness and submission.”
According to psychmechanics.com, during a conversation cross-legged body language “can indicate a withdrawn attitude.” And people tend to talk in shorter sentences and reject more proposals.
In my opinion, his communication wasn’t the only instance that day in which McDougall tried to appear one way but come off another. McDougall seems to have wanted to dress up for the event, and I commend him for the effort. However, I would say he also failed in that task. My criticism of his fashion choices would be that he was wearing a jacket and pants that are clearly not the same set. And I don’t think dark shirts look good when worn with a suit. Yet, if I was going with a dark shirt color, I would definitely not pick a tie that is a lighter color than the shirt. And I wouldn’t wear a tie that is broader than the lapel of my jacket. However, I think the worst fashion faux pas was wearing brown shoes with a dark outfit. And I especially disliked that the shoes appear to be square toed and not have any laces.
I think Greg would be more confident and look great in a good suit and with an openness towards a wide range of protest methods. Come over to the light side of the force, Greg!
Matt Barter is a fourth-year student in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. He enjoys reading thought-provoking articles, walks in nature, and volunteering in the community.