Monday, July 10, 2023

Body Language Analysis №4707: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at The Al Smith Dinner - Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence

Do you recall this moment from the 2016 Al Smith Dinner? It exemplifies some profoundly classic Body Language.



One characteristic of both a sincere smile and sincere laughter (that’s rarely cited) is retraction of the mandible (a backward vectoring of the jaw) — as is clearly displayed in this profile-view of Hillary Clinton.

Whenever a smile is sincere, the jaw retracts, at least a bit, backward. This movement is often not to the more pronounced degree we see in this example, but it always occurs.

Indeed, so long as you’re first “smiling with your eyes” (eyelids partially [or even fully] closed along with concave-up furrows in each of your lower eyelids), the act of simply by retracting one’s jaw — will often precipitate a sincere smile or even sincere laughter.

Another useful body language tool in this moment to project sincere smile/laughter is recalling a personal hilarious moment and/or someone you love laughing deeply.



Note the expression on Donald Trump’s face in this moment — it’s one of classic Contempt. 



In addition, Trump’s left hand is positioned in front of and just above his groin — in a modified (partial) Fig Leaf configuration (aka, Genital Guarding). He’s subconsciously feigning an adjustment of his vest in an attempt at camouflaging his thought-emotions.

He feels threatened and intimidated by Hillary Clinton. Moreover, at the time of this image (20 October 2016), Trump believed Hillary Clinton would win the Presidential Election.

SUMMARY: An important and oft overlooked component of a sincere smile and sincere laughter is a retraction of the jaw. You can even elicit a sincere smile and/or sincere laughter by pulling your jaw backward (when in conjunction with an eye-smiling), (please see above).

Crucially, when jaw retraction is absent, what you might think is a sincere smile or laughter — is being feigned.

In the image included above, Donald Trump’s contempt for Hillary Clinton is clearly demonstrated amidst a moment of Hillary Clinton’s sincere joy-happiness-laughter.

All individuals, businesses, or organizations who want to (need to) dramatically improve their #BodyLanguage skills (via group or individual instruction) — and all professionals who want to nuance their understanding of #EmotionalIntelligence, please DM or email me at


This post and others accompanying it, serve as a reference source for the art and science of Body Language/Nonverbal Communication. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the author. 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.