What Ivanka & Donald Trump's Body Language Tells Us, According To Experts
Understanding the relationship between President Trump and his daughter Ivanka has been challenging at times. The two appear to be quite different politically, and many hoped that Ivanka would be able to hold her father in check regarding some of his more conservative campaign promises, especially on social issues. That has not proved to be the case, leading some to wonder if there's more that can be understood about the two's relationship based on Ivanka and Trump's body language. According to experts, you can learn more about the two from watching Trump and how Ivanka reacts to him.
That's partly because they carry themselves differently. Ivanka easily seems the more poised of the two, Ruth Sherman, an expert and trainer on presenting oneself in public, tells Bustle. "She was professionally trained, or having grown up in the public eye, she figured it out or her parents showed her early on — how do you want to see yourself photographed, talked about, reported about? She looks very polished," she says. "How did he have a daughter with such poise, who's articulate and seems so intelligent?"
And Nick Morgan, another expert on body language and presentation, has a theory that even Ivanka's seeming poise is a response to Trump's big presence in public. He thinks this could explain Ivanka, Melania, and even Jared Kushner's body language, saying:
They look so much more poised than Trump, who's a big outsized personality that dominates the room. Why doesn't he take a lesson from them? They seem to be more in the norm of what you expect from a public person, unruffled. But as I watched them more and studied their body language more, with a couple of exceptions, I began to define it as a negation of Trump rather than a positive sense of being poised.
"They seem to be AWOL to me," Morgan continues. "If they are there, they are hiding. As a result, the huge contrast between them and President Trump, they seem deeply and profoundly inauthentic."
That, Morgan argues, is because Trump has such a dominant personality, that it causes everyone around him to withdraw. "With Ivanka, she seems reasonably normal with their inner banter; she's smiling," Morgan says. "But her answers are carefully calculated and empty, no sense of a real person underneath." And it could be different when they're not in the spotlight:
Whether that's a public performance to leave him some room to maneuver, which he needs a lot of, or whether they act like that in private, I don't know.
As for the two of them interacting, there are some other telling moments from Ivanka's responses. Tonya Reiman, author of books like The Power of Body Language and an expert in non-verbal communication, considered some specific examples, like when Trump has talked about his daughter. In an interview with both on The View, Trump says, "I've said that if Ivanka weren't my daughter, perhaps, I would be dating her."
Reiman notes that when he talks about her like this, "you see her shrink." "Embarrassed or submissive or feeling it's inappropriate, you shrug forward or tuck your head," Reiman tells Bustle. "He said something about her appearance and she looks down and closes up a bit."
Outside of this though, Reiman notes some non-verbal cues that Ivanka makes that could be helpful to her father, especially as he continues to suffer from the ongoing investigation into possible collusion between Russia and members of his presidential campaign.
"I would imagine that she can be intimidating when defending someone she's close to," Reiman says of Ivanka. "She shows her power with a smile rather than contempt unless you're really looking for it."
But there's one tell that you might want to pay attention to when she's caught on film. "When she's talking you can see contempt sometimes," Reiman says. The way that shows itself, Reiman explains, is that "one side of the mouth goes up and nose wrinkles a bit." And if someone is left-handed, the tell is on the right side of the face.
"It's very quick. It's not a micro expression because it's much shorter. She might not even know she's doing it. Trying to keep a poker face, it slips out in interviews because she's not trying to verbalize contempt."
You might not get too many clues from Ivanka, thanks to her poised and polished presentation, but this is something to be on the lookout for.
Additional reporting by Priscilla Totiyapungprasert.