Earlier this week President Obama was a guest on Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show. He spoke at length regarding several subjects - including the Republican Party, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Of course, this website serves as an objective reference source for the science and art of Body Language/Nonverbal Communication. In an effort to be both practical and academic, many examples from/of varied cultures, politicians, professional athletes, legal cases, public figures, etc., are cited in order to teach and illustrate both the interpretation of others’ body language as well as the projection of one’s own nonverbal skills in many different contexts – not to advance any political, religious or other agenda.
The President is very good at his use of a type of body language know as "Alpha-Beta Hybrids". As this sounds, these are comprised of a group of nonverbal signals which are not too alpha and not too beta - but somewhere in between.
This first image (left) is a prototypical basketball steeple.
This post includes examples of some of the variations of the Basketball Steeple.
However, if his hands were held even further apart (beginning at about shoulder width and greater) - this would increase the strength of this nonverbal signal to that of one with a pure alpha status. If he were to hold his upper arms and elbows further out - this would also increase the alpha factor.
When the hands are held too close together - it is no longer a basketball steeple and becomes a "Classic Steeple". A classic steeple is much more alpha - and when performed it must be essentially choreographed and be maintained for only about a second. In over 200,000 images and thousands of hours of video, I haven't one example of any U.S. President, republican or democrat, displaying a classic steeple - why are such examples so rare?
Here the President's hands are turned toward himself (vs. toward the audience or Fallon) - thus, while still an alpha-beta hybrid, morphing this more to the beta side of the spectrum.
Similar to above with his hands further apart.
If he were to turn his hands and index fingers (forefingers) out and point toward the audience, then it would transmute into a Full Alpha body language display.
Similar to the example immediately above only with one hand - his dominant, left hand - so this increases the "alpha-ness" of this gesture.
Take home points:
A basketball steeple is one type of alpha-beta hybrid body language display.
Alpha-beta hybrids show leadership, assertiveness and strength - but are not overly so and therefore they build rapport rather than destroy it (as does using too much alpha body language).
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