French President François Hollande is visiting the United States. President Obama, who normally has very good body language, committed a major faux pas as the two leaders walked outside Monticello today. Keeping his hands clasped behind his back nearly the entire time he walked outside of Jefferson's Home, the President said, "... Sorry we're breaking protocol here. That's alright. That's the good thing about being President, I can, I can do whatever I want." (0:01 - 0:08)
POTUS used the hyper-alpha display of long-duration hands clasped behind-the-back nonverbal - despite the fact he's the most powerful man on the planet. When you're at the top of any pecking order, one should want to build rapport, not destroy it. Barack does not need to remind anyone he's President. As with all high-alpha body language, if over-used it will backfire and send patronizing and arrogant signals. This nonverbal configuration is powerful and thus it should be used very sparingly - essentially choreographed for particular and brief moments. Moreover, walking in this manner, particularly with another head-of-state, has the effect of amplifying its condescending message.
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