Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States today. During his approximately sixteen minute inaugural address, he used a very low variety of hand gestures. And while this low nonverbal vocabulary is typical for Trump - it was particularly so today.
There were two hand-arm gestures which President Trump over-used - and indeed one which he should absolutely NOT have used.
Above we see what has become known in some countries as "The Political Point". In other countries (e.g., Greece, Turkey, Russia, Brazil and others) this gesture is an obscenity - while in others (France, Belgium, Tunisia) it indicates "worthless".
In many countries (including the US) where the tip of the forefinger (index finger) is touching the tip of the thumb with the other digits extended, it indicates "okay", "everything is all right" or "I agree with you". Yet these are recognizably different scenarios from most political speeches.
In the past 25-30 years, many politicians have come to use the political point nonverbal signal instead of index finger pointing while speaking. In general this is a very good idea - for it's one of many types of what are known as "alpha-beta hybrids". It fits in this category because it's not as aggressive and not as hyper-alpha (and offensive) as is pointing at someone (or group) with one's forefinger - yet it still projects a good level of authority, strength and determination.
The trouble with the political point is that most politicians who use it, tend to over-use it - and that is what President Trump did today. Any time someone uses any nonverbal signal too frequently, it's a bad idea. It's very much as if someone spoke a certain word too often. It backfires. It looks unpolished. It makes people emotionally uncomfortable. It sends the wrong message. Of course, this same principle applies to almost everything in human behavior.
Another intriguing factor about the political point - is that outside the realm of politics, the political point is almost never used - and that makes people suspicious. And in this light, it also sends signals of insincerity.
Pointing upwards is another body language gesture which Donald Trump used too often today. It's another nonverbal symbol used in lieu of pointing directly at someone. Moreover, this illustrator is significantly more alpha when compared with the political point and therefore it should be used with less frequency and more discreetly. This "Pointing Up" should essentially be choreographed into one's speech and used for short durations during very specific and important words.
The third variation on pointing which Donald Trump used today, should NOT have been used at all. Index finger (forefinger) pointing is UNIVERSALLY offensive (across all cultures). Even those people who agree with your point of view and who like you, will become ill-at-ease when you point at them. Rather than using the index finger point, the new president should have pointed with a relaxed-palm up gesture, held at the lower chest level (with his elbow and shoulder extended, but not fully).
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