Donald Trump's body language is a frequently discussed subject in political analyses. Media experts and body language specialists keenly observe the president's physical gestures and movements to siphon unspoken messages. Whether he is speaking to the public on domestic issues, responding to critics, or traveling on a foreign diplomatic trip, the world's eyes are centered on Trump's gait, handshakes, facial expressions, and much more. Thanks to specialists, we can learn a lot from Trump's body language.
Trump isn't the only president to be so minutely observed: his predecessors were routinely analyzed by body language experts as well. Barack Obama's oratory style — including his hand gestures while speaking — as well as George W. Bush's grin were often regular topics for analysts. If you're interested in learning more about the body language of a leader, simply Google any American president's name and add "body language" into the search field. You'll see a ton of results for different presidents.
The reason for such intellectual observation and investment in body language is because it can reveal a good deal about the head of the state. To understand what Trump might be saying without words or even understand his childhood, body language analysts have conducted series of analyses on Trump's physical movements.
1. Some Think Trump Is Awkward, In A Positive Way
Body language consultant Dr. Lillian Glass has a hopeful understanding of Trump's body language. Glass believes that Trump is awkward, but not necessarily malicious. In a statement to The Independent, Glass said that Trump's movement when greeting France's First Lady Brigitte Macron was "awkward like an overgrown puppy lavishing you with affection."
2. Trump's Body Language Might Be Perceived As Arrogant
While Glass believed that Trump is awkward but positive in that situation, she cautioned against arrogance. The body language expert penned an open letter of advice to Trump, and suggesting that he apply humility to his body language. "No one responds well to a braggart," Glass wrote.
3. Trump Is Particularly Awkward With Women
Body language expert Tonya Reiman observed Trump's body language while intersecting it with gender. She told The Independent that Trump tends to be uncertain around women, also pointing to the way he interacted with the French first lady.
4. Trump Likes Being The Center Of Attention
Body language expert India Ford told TIME that Trump's shove against the prime minister of Montenegro, Dusko Markovic, during a NATO summit photo opportunity showed Trump's "very high sense of entitlement."
She went on to say that Trump's shove was "the kind of behavior you would expect to see a five-year-old display in the playground."
5. Trump Tries To Grab Power With His Hands
Body language experts Louise Mahler and Steve Van Aperen believe that Trump seeks to establish his image as a tough guy or alpha male, and cited the example of Trump's long, intense handshake with French President Emmanuel Macron when talking to CNN. While Mahler claims that "Trump plays to win but he did not on this occasion," Van Aperen believes the American president was the victor in this "power-play handshake."
6. The Notorious Tug-Handshake Even Dominates His Allies
Body language expert Patti Wood took notice of Trump's intense tug-and-pull handshake with Neil Gorsuch during his Supreme Court nomination. Wood viewed this spectacular handshake as a display of power that even Gorsuch was stunned by. Gorsuch's head leaning forward, Wood believes, seemed to "indicate he can't believe Trump is doing this."
7. One Hand Position Displays Confidence
Previously mentioned body language specialist Mahler views Trump's resting hand position, in the form of a steeple, as a way to display "thought leadership." She told CNN this shows power, confidence, and "precision thinking."
Examples of Trump holding his hands in steeple position can be seen when he met Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
8. Trump Is Someone Who Struggles With Personal Space
Reiman viewed Trump's interaction with the First Lady of France as an indication of him not being able to formulate a sense of personal space. She used the example of Trump embracing Brigitte Macron while she placed her hand on him, creating a barrier that Reiman believes Trump remained unaware of.
9. Some Believe Trump's Body Language Demands Obedience
The aforementioned body language specialist Patti Wood believes that Trump's handshake, involving a rigorous up-and-down movement frequently followed by a forceful yank, indicates his desire to be obeyed. Wood says that Trump's handshake is "as if he is reprimanding a small child to obey him."
10. The Long & Intense Eye Contact Is Also "Alpha"
Body language consultant Judi James believes that Trump's frequently prolonged and unflinching eye-contact is a way to keep the "alpha male look alive."
While body language experts don't claim that their observations definitively outline Trump's personality, we can learn a lot about the president by studying their analyses. After all, the human body has trouble lying.