Saturday, June 2, 2018

Body Language Analysis No. 4297: Donald Trump's Fearful Forefinger - Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence

On Friday 1 June 2018, Donald Trump met with former North Korean spy chief Kim Yong-chol in the Oval Office for about 90 minutes. What follows is a partial nonverbal analysis of the President - with a focus on one particular tell.

DONALD TRUMP (beginning at 0:00): We'll be, ah - meeting on June twelfth in Singapore - went very well - it's really 'getting to know you' kind of a - situation. Ah, Mike has spent two days, ah, doing this. We've gotten to know their people very well and we will - you people are going to have to travel, because you'll be in Singapore 'n June twelfth. Ah - and I'll think it will be a process. It's not - I d't-, I never said it goes in one meeting - I think it's going to be a process. But the relationships are building and that's a very positive thing.

During, 0:29, as he says, "... relationships ...", he moves his right hand/arm gesturing using two rapid cyclical rotations - while advancing his hand anterior-laterally with his palm is facing in (toward his torso). Crucially, during this dynamic, his index finger is flexed (retracted) - but the other digits are extended.

This gesture is but one of many examples of what are known as alpha-beta hybrids. Alpha-beta hybrids are not pure alpha, nor pure beta - but somewhere in between. In general, the use of alpha-beta hybrids is wise. Politicians certainly don't use them anywhere near as often as they should - rather they tend to default to alpha and hyper-alpha nonverbal behavior (which, although solidifies their base - these will alienate swing/independent voters).

While this particular gesture - with the index finger retracted and all the other digits extended - is not idiosyncratic to Trump, it's relatively rare in the general population. And although it IS an alpha-beta hybrid, this illustrator lives toward the beta end of that Goldilocks zone.

Because the forefinger (index finger) is the most alpha/most powerful of all the digits, this non-usage gesture is known as the Forefinger Retraction, Forefinger Flexing, or Fearful Forefinger.

Thus, in a very literal way, this dynamic is the exact opposite an extremely Hyper-Alpha gesture - Forefinger Pointing - (where the forefinger [index finger] is extended, and all the other digits are retracted).

SUMMARY: When we observe his Fearful Forefinger Retraction in dynamic context - it unequivocally tells us that the President is having a momentary downturn of his confidence. Its presence projects a hesitancy to commit/not wanting to engage. Moreover, as its name suggests, there's also a component of fear present.

Group Appearances and One-on-One
Online Courses Available 

See also:

Body Language Analysis No. 4296: Sarah Huckabee Sanders Chokes Up

Body Language Analysis No. 4294: LeBron James, Adrenaline Surges, and Emotional Intelligence

Body Language Analysis No. 4292: Sarah Huckabee Sanders' Deception

Body Language Analysis No. 4290: President Trump regarding talks with North Korea

Body Language Analysis No. 4278: Jaws - "You're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat" - vs. A Real Shark Encounter on a Paddleboard 

Body Language Analysis No. 4249: Will Smith, Sophia the Robot, Robot-Empathy, and Responding in Context

Body Language Analysis No. 4205: Chloe Kim, Albert Einstein, and Creativity

Body Language Analysis No. 4071: Fans' Reaction to Trauma - Young Girl Hit By Foul Ball at Yankee Stadium

Body Language Analysis No. 3955: Jeff Sessions, Russia, and Sergey Kislyak