NO FRIEND OF MINE: The body language told the story when President-elect Donald Trump met Barack Obama for the first time.
NO FRIEND OF MINE: The body language told the story when President-elect Donald Trump met Barack Obama for the first time. MICHAEL REYNOLDS

Body language reveals what Trump and Obama really feel about each other

IT'S not often that the most powerful man in the world is dominated in a one-on-one encounter but a gloating Donald Trump managed to do exactly that when he came face-to-face with US President Barack Obama on Friday.

It was the first time the pair had met and body language experts Allan and Barbara Pease say Trump's movements and gestures were much the same as those of a Union Army veteran meeting a vanquished Confederate veteran in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, over a century ago.

Mr Pease summed it up in three words - awkward, forced and uneasy.

 

President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Pablo Martinez Monsivais

"The victor and the vanquished. That's what the body language of President Obama and President-elect Trump shouted at their meeting in the White House on Friday," he said.

"If ever there was a set of images that parallels Russell Crowe as the gladiator standing over the loser, this was it.

"It's hard when two people who clearly don't like each other have to meet publicly and who feel the need to display civility toward each other and a sense of some kind of unity.

"When you listen to the sound track only of this meeting (as we did) you can be left feeling that these are two friends who are trying to encourage a happy outcome.

"But watch them on TV with the sound turned off and you'll get a very different perspective.

"Body language reveals how people really feel about things and it accounts for 60-80% of all face-to-face interaction between people."

Mr Pease pointed out that during the pair's brief encounter, both sat with their legs spread just as alpha-male apes do to display their masculinity and to prevent the other guy from getting into a one-up position.

They both minimized mutual eye-contact, opting to look at the reporters instead.

"Trump sat forward the entire time (dominance) and displayed his classic trademark gesture of superiority - the hand steeple. People who feel confident, superior or authoritative often use this gesture.

"While Trump usually holds the hand steeple higher at chest level giving him an air of confidence and even arrogance, he kept it subtly low during this encounter.

"He also used his typical tight-lipped-smile, revealing he was withholding some strong words and emotions.

"Under pressure - such as in this staged meeting - our real feelings and emotions are often revealed through our gestures and expressions.

"Obama - like Hillary Clinton - is a seasoned, polished career politician who is excellent at giving persuasive, convincing speeches to his audience.

"It's really not much different to professional acting and can make it difficult to pick whether or not that person is being genuine.

"While Obama generally put on an upbeat brave face for the audience, his body language leaked a story of defeat.

"Not so with the comparatively inexperienced Trump however - while he has a limited range of repetitive gestures and expressions, what you see is what you get.

"He says what he feels and his body language is congruent with what he is saying - whether you like it or not.

"In other words, everything matches. Trump is a businessman, cut and dry, black and white.

"In Friday's White House meeting, Obama, despite his best efforts, revealed a rare display of emotional defeat while Donald Trump was a well-contained version of his usual, dominant self."

Allan & Barbara Pease new book "The Answer" is published this week.


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