Erdogan’s Calm?

After some hours of silence during the coup attempt Turkey’s president Erdogan suddenly appeared live on TV through a facetime connection to the CNN Türk station. He had reported having escaped attempts to take him or even kill him. In the facetime statement Erdogan rallied the people to go out into the streets to defeat the coup attempt. What seems striking is the composed way in which Erdogan appears on the screen. Is this typical of him in situations of stress and tension?

With the research based INSA profiling method we can establish an individual’s Personal Nonverbal Repertoire (PNR), a set of repetitive micro movements in the face, that holds information about the personality, but also shows variances in the agitation of the person. Repetitive micromovements are unconscious and therefore areliable source of information.

Erdogan’s PNR shows repeated drawing up of the eyebrows, upper eyelids that sometimes are lifted together with the eyebrows, slightly drooping upper eyelids, oftentimes white underneath the iris of especially his left eye and eyes only partially closing in blinking. According to our analysis he is a person who can shift between phlegmatic behavior and (sudden) extraverted or even powerful behavior. This is also a person who can patiently persevere in attaining his goals.


In the facetime statement he does not seem to be very agitated (although the video quality is poor, but also his speech is quite flat and does not seem to be agitated). In several interviews he shows more agitation by drawing up the eyebrows and the upper eyelids.

What can all this say about the facetime statement? Is it possible that Erdogan could have emotionally distanced himself so much from the unexpected crisis situation that he shows this remarkable calm? Or did he find himself in a situation that didn’t cause him to be agitated, because it was no crisis to him?

Some are even suggesting Erdogan staged the coup himself to be able to increase his power.

In our view Erdogan’s personality allows him to show outside calm, even when he is inwardly very emotional or stressed. Only when he feels he is in control of the situation will he outwardly show more of his agitation. The outside calm is reflected in the white underneath the iris, the slightly drooping eyelids and the eyes partially closing in blinking. Outside agitation becomes more visible in the drawing up of his eyebrows and upper eyelids. This is what he shows in f.e. the CNN interview after the failed coup.

In sum we should realize that the outside calm of Erdogan does not mean he didn’t experience stress. His composure in the facetime video does not automatically imply that the crisis was not a crisis to him. In that sense his unconscious nonverbal communication does not support the speculation he was behind the coup himself.

(this analysis was carried out together with INSA Partner An Gaiser of AboutFace).