A body language expert has pinpointed the moment NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian became most stressed during a press conference where she was grilled over her relationship with ex-MP Daryl Maguire.
Ms Berejiklian faced a tough line of questioning on Monday and Tuesday after it emerged she had a close personal relationship with Mr Maguire, who is being investigated for corruption by ICAC.
Some reporters questioned how it was possible she did not know Mr Maguire was using his public office to improperly gain a benefit for himself, and a body language expert has revealed there were a number of hints as to how Ms Berejiklian was feeling during her press conferences.
At the start of the premier’s grilling on Tuesday, a reporter claimed in a 2017 phone call with Mr Maguire where he allegedly spoke of a financial deal, Ms Berejiklian said to him, “I don’t need to know about that bit”.
As the grilling began of the premier’s comments to ICAC body language expert and founder of My Alcomy, Sophie Zadeh, said that Ms Berejiklian expressed extreme stress, with a blink rate of 70 to 80 blinks per minute as she listens to the question.
“The average blink rate is 17 to 25 blinks per minute so this is significant,” Ms Zadeh said.
“Most likely her high level of stress is anticipation of the question in regards to the relationship with Daryl Maguire.
“Bill Clinton had the same high level of blink rate when anticipating questions from the Monica Lewinsky scandal press conference.”
Moment premier attempts to conceal emotion
During the press conference, Ms Berejiklian was clearly despondent.
At one point Ms Berejiklian purses her lips together and sucks in her cheeks, a moment the premier is attempting to conceal or suppress emotional expression.
“[This is] to seem less emotional than she feels, to fit in with social norms and expectations,” Ms Zadeh said.
She added that the expression could also indicate she was holding back expressing something verbally and the act of cheeks being sucked in or pushed out could relate to emotional expressions of sadness, fear, anger or possibly disgust and surprise.
‘On the edge of breaking down’
Ms Berejiklian also faced questions about her relationship with Mr Maguire on Monday, with Ms Zadeh pinpointing the moment the premier was fighting back tears.
As Ms Berejiklian told reporters she was far from perfect but at every opportunity served the people with every ounce of her body and being, her bottom lip is pulled inwards.
“This is where she starts to contain her emotion/crying,” Ms Zadeh said.
“The bottom lip often quivers, then the tears start. Here, she’s controlling that quiver.”
Ms Zadeh added the premier is sucking in her cheeks – an act to control extreme emotional expression.
“She’s right on the edge of breaking down,” Ms Zadeh said.
“Actively tensing her muscles to control her emotional expression and her emotional experience.
“We can control our internal experience of emotion by containing our facial expression.”
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