Saturday, February 6, 2016

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3458: Marco Rubio and Donald Trump Shake Hands at Debate - Body Language (PHOTOS)

The above image of Marco Rubio and Donald Trump shaking hands was captured during the recent Republican debate in North Charleston, South Carolina. The photo below was taken a fraction of a second earlier. Tonight the two republicans (along with Cruz, Bush, Kasich, Christie and Carson) are on a similar stage in New Hampshire - just three days prior to the 2016 Presidential primary there.

Politicians virtually always try to "out-alpha" each other when shaking hands. Note the Senator's right hand is on top of Trump's. Because Trump didn't fully turn toward Rubio - Trump's body configuration puts him at a natural disadvantage - allowing the other person's hand to be on top (the alpha position during a dominant handshake) as well as a weakened grip strength. This disadvantage is further amplified by Trump's near 90 degree twisting of his own right wrist - and is very beta.

Rubio also displays another very high-alpha handshake maneuver - by gripping Trump's right arm, just above his elbow with his left hand. Politicians perform this as a counter-move to dominate and subtly intimidate their opponents (Candidates often make the mistake of doing the same thing with those they meet on the campaign trail. In such a setting, they are committing a major faux pas of false intimacy by invading another person's intimate space. Corporate executives and other "leaders" often use the same nonverbals with their subordinates - and thus loose major rapport points by touching another person out-of-context. In each example, the "leaders" are completely unaware of their off-putting body language). It's very possible that in this particular example, Sen. Rubio is deliberately performing this left arm, elbow-gripping in an effort to prevent Mr. Trump from pulling his hand/arm (toward Trump's chest) - a hyper-dominant, intimidation handshake variation that this businessman has a history of doing

The primary motion expressed on Rubio's face is that of partially-suppressed disgust.

Trump, of course, then performs the expected counter-maneuver of placing part of his left hand on top of Rubio's right hand in and effort to increase his alpha tone in this moment. Yet Donald makes a mistake here too, by only using the distal ends of his fingers - rather than placing his whole hand on top of Rubio's. Then he could have further sandwiched Marco's hand between his - and turned up his alpha even more by grabbing Rubio's right wrist. By touching with only his fingers - Trump lost an opportunity and comes off as demure.

This of course, is a not a normal or common situation for shaking hands - as the vast majority of the time a greeting should be sincere. This handshake however, is heavy with insincerity.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3457: Chelsea Clinton refers to Bernie Sanders as "President Sanders"

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3210: Matteo Renzi, Christine Lagarde, Barack Obama and Up-Regulating Alpha Emotions 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3227: Bobby Jindal's, "... I am tanned ..." remark - What does his Body Language tell us?

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3330: Vladimir Putin on 60 Minutes

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3363: Chris Christie's Viral Video - Why do even Democrats love it?

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3267: Jeb Bush, Emotional Dissonance and Body Language 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2829: Respect, Funerals, Memorials and Alpha vs. Beta

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2896: Hillary Clinton - Vladimir Putin Bears Some Responsibility for the Downing of Malaysia Air Flight MH17