Saturday, June 15, 2024

Body Language and Behavior Analysis No. 4751: Donald Trump's and Mitch McConnell's Handshake in DC – Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence


On Thursday 13 June 2024, Donald Trump met with Republican members of the House and Senate in Washington D.C. It was the first time Trump had returned to the nation's capital since leaving office almost 3.5 years ago (Photo Credit: Doug Mills).
The meeting took place at the Capitol Hill Club – an exclusive Republican social coterie – just 0.12 miles from the grounds of the US Capitol, the site of the January 6th 2021 Insurrection. 

The Capitol Hill Club occupies the same building which once was the home of former Senator John McCain's parents.

Intriguingly, the Capitol Hill Club is also the location where the second DC pipe bomb was planted on the evening of January 5th, 2021 (not at the RNC headquarters, an adjacent building, immediately to its south [as is nearly always falsely reported]).

The above image captures the first meeting of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell since Trump left office.

Note the angle at which each man 'leans into' the handshake. Trump's torso is tilted at about 30º-35º and McConnell is also leaning-in, but less so, about 20º.

This behavior is akin to leaning-in during a hug, wherein the further apart the two *lower* bodies are, the greater the lean-in required – indicative of less (or absent) affection. 

In the context of a handshake, the greater the leaning-in, the less the respect and/or (what we see demonstrated here) – the less trust (or no trust) held for the other person.

Now you may say, "Well what about the chair and the corner of the table, between them? Those obstacles prevent the two men from leaning-in."

While if you isolate this moment solely to physics and physical objects, you would be correct – but with respect to psychology, you'd be dead wrong. 

Human nature doesn't exist in isolation. 

If you have affection for, respect, or trust another person, your psyche wants to 'close the distance' to them. There's a subconscious drive to be physically closer. 

Ergo, without thinking about it, you'll step around objects (or move them) to hug or handshake. You won't lean-in any more than a small amount. 

If you trust and/or respect the other person (and absolutely if you have affection for them) your body will be straighter and your feet would be closer during a handshake than what is exemplified here. 

So with rare exceptions, you should never reach across a table (or any obstacle) to shake someone's hand. 

Take the time to walk around any obstacles prior to shaking someone's hand. This simple and conscious act shows more respect for the other person – and will increase their respect for you.

You may say, "Well, what if Trump doesn't like McConnell (or vice versa)?" They still should walk around obstacles for a handshake, for doing so also demonstrates greater command of the situation (less pretense and more substance).

Moreover, depending on the other simultaneous (nonverbal, verbal, and paralanguage) behaviors, the reach-across-the table handshake can also convey that they who are reaching – are also very often intimidated. 

Another mistake Trump almost always commits during a handshake is that he offers the other person his hand in a palm-up configuration. This is almost never advised.

Exception: i.e., if your boss or some other obvious organizational superior *offers you their palm-down hand first*, it's wise to reciprocate with your hand in a palm-up manner.

But if you extend your hand first (good advice), always keep your palm perpendicular to the ground (even if they're your boss or head-of-state).

Trump offers his palm-up first for one of two reasons:

A. So that he can give the other person the 'hand sandwich' (see below)
B. He may have an old rotator cuff injury (or similar) which makes a palm-down or palm-perpendicular handshake physically difficult.

A 'hand sandwich', sometimes called 'the double-hander', (what Trump is doing in this example) is a dominance display. Trump is trying to convey to McConnell that he controls the Senator – that he has more power.

At other times, when Trump isn't using the double-hander (or one of its variations), he's usually using another dominant/controlling handshake – although he doesn't always succeed. Thank you, PM Trudeau.

(Note: There are numerous other body language components to proper handshakes – and many other handshake scenarios. This post is not intended to be comprehensive.)

SUMMARY: It's no secret that Donald Trump 'does not like' Mitch McConnell – and McConnell feels the same about Trump (they may even hate each other). ...

... and their specific behavior in the above image shows us an amalgam – that Trump and McConnell:
• Don't respect each other
• Don't trust each other
• Are intimidated by each other
• They need each other

Inquiries regarding teaching (one-on-one or groups), keynotes, consulting, and press:  


Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Body Language and Behavior Analysis No. 4750: Joe and Hunter Biden, hugs, and true affection – Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence


Yesterday, Hunter Biden was convicted today on three felony charges related to the purchase of a handgun in 2018 violating laws meant to prevent drug addicts from owning firearms.

The above image of Joe Biden hugging Hunter was taken this past February. It demonstrates a crucial component of a sincere hug and thus affection – closed eyes (eyelids). 

If one's eyelids aren't closed during a hug – either the person is distracted (usually with anxiety), they're not emotionally-comfortable with any public affection (anxiety component here, too) – or, the hug is insincere (the affection is being feigned).

Ninety percent of our sensory input and forty percent of the mass of our brains is dedicated to the visual system (the occipital lobe).

When we close our eyes, the blood, nutrients, and neuro-activity are slightly shunted to areas of the brain which serve our other four senses - as well as to the cognitive and emotional centers.

By closing our eyes, we amplify the non-visual areas of our brains. So it's not your imagination that you can taste the wine or the chocolate more deeply, smell the aroma of the flower, or hear music with more nuance, if we close our eyes.
It's also very common to close our eyes when we're trying to increase our cognition – when we're trying to 'concentrate', to focus.

The same enhancement also is true of our emotions. And when we're sincere – we instinctively want to experience the totality of the affection – to "drink in" the entire hug, and experience every ounce of the moment – thus we close our eyes.

Inquiries regarding teaching (one-on-one or groups), keynotes, consulting, and press:  


Monday, June 10, 2024

Body Language and Behavior Analysis No. 4749: Donald Trump asked if he would "Declassify the Epstein Files" – Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence

Just two days after Donald Trump was convicted on all 34 Felony counts for Election Interference, he gave an interview on Fox News. 

What follows is a body language, statement analysis, and paralanguage analysis of this exchange.

In the above video clip from that interview, Rachel Campos-Duffy asked Trump, "Would you declassify the 9/11, um, files? Trump answers, "Yeah".

Campos-Duffy continues, "Would you declassify JFK files?" Trump again answers, "Yeah", then over-talking her, he continues, "I did, I did a lot of it."

Then she asks, "Would you declassify thee [sic] Epstein files?"
Trump answers, [pause] "Yeee-ahhh...Yee-ahh. I would. I guess I would..." (note his stretching-out the word "Yeah")

Trump continues, "...I think that less so because ya know, ya don't know, it–, You don't wanna affect people's lives if it's phony stuff in there – cuz it's a lot of phony stuff with that whole [pause, inhale] world [pause, inhale] Ahum, ah, but I think I would..."

As stated in a previous analysis (No. 4747), Trump is sitting, in what for him, is a highly unusual configuration (only the second time in the last 9 years during a public appearance). His lower legs/ankles are crossed:

Trump normally sits with both feet flat on the floor.

Both in an absolute sense, but particularly with this sudden change in posture, this lower legs/ankles-crossed configuration projects thought-emotions of low confidence and emotional discomfort. 

Note also his low-steeple hand gesture (conventional low-steeple).

The conventional steeple, if used at all, should be used exceedingly sparingly. However, Trump over-uses this body language dramatically. It's a default position for him. It projects an over-compensated ego and arrogance when it's used any more than rarely and very briefly.

Rather than keeping his hands still (as he does 99% of the time), Trump taps his fingers together – demonstrating his anxiety. Because he was told about the specifics of the upcoming question:



After the question regarding the "9/11 files" and the "JFK files", much of Trump's body language changed dramatically.
Immediately prior to Campos-Duffy asking, "Would you declassify the Epstein files?", Trump changes his hand position to a lower-confidence, more psychologically protective left-hand holding the right-hand with thumb-rubbing – in a seated fig leaf (genital guarding):


Before she can finish the word, "Epstein", Trump:

• Pulls torso back, (distancing from accusation)
• Displays Loose Tongue Jut (deception, see below)
• Clenches his Jaw (anger)
• Juts his Jaw forward (adrenaline surge)
• Increases hand tension (anxiety, anger)


Before he answers, Trump looks down to his right (quadrant to which people overwhelmingly look during moments of deception, shame, guilt [both legal-culpability guilt as well as shame-guilt] and sadness) and pauses.

Notice how Trump says the word "yeah" (twice), he stretches-out the syllables (particularly the first time). He also says them with a less-confident vocal tone (unlike his first two answers to the 9/11 and JFK files).

People often stretch out syllable enunciation during moments when they're formulating lies.

This is an example of both stalling for time (to think) – as well as overcompensation (i.e., "If I try to pronounce clearly [slower, louder, stretching out syllables], my lies will sound truthful").

As he gives his answer, Trump shrugs his shoulders – three times in less than three seconds.

Shoulder shrugging in this context is profoundly telling. It indicates either an attempt to escape from responsibility – or lying. This cannot be emphasized enough... with that whole world § ahum § ah, but I think I would..."

During his answer, Trump also displays two additional Loose Tongue Juts (§) after he says, "world" and again after he says "ahum":

A Loose Tongue jut indicates:

• "I just said/about to say something stupid" 
• "I've been/about to be bad"
• "I've got/about to get caught"
• "I just lied/about to lie".

Be careful not to confuse a Loose Tongue Jut with a Tight Tongue Jut or a Wide-Open Tongue Jut, as these indicate completely different thought-emotions.

Note during these second and third Loose Tongue Juts, Trump also paused and inhaled (more time needed to lie, anxiety).

Note Trump's abundance of hedging words used in his answer:

• Yeah ("Yeee-ahhh...Yee-ahh", not "Yes")
• I guess
• I think that less so
• ya know
• ya don't know
• you don't wanna
• If
• it's phony stuff
• cuz it's a lot of phony stuff
• but
• I think I would

Note Trump used the words, "phony stuff" twice (cognitive bias, consciousness of guilt)

And, specifically, Trump's word choice of "ya know, ya don't know" is contradictory (cognitive-emotional dissonance) and bizarre. 

Moreover, Trump's vocal qualities (tone, cadence, rhythm, volume, pitch, etc.) completely changes during his answer to the "Epstein files" vs the 9/11 or the JFK files.

You don't need to be a body language expert or a behaviorist to know Trump is lying here – and that he's displaying consciousness of guilt. You merely have to have been following this story for several years. 

Here's the Rub: to note similar times, when someone who you like and trust, exhibits similar nonverbal behavior (e.g., in everyday scenarios).  

If we fall victim to confirmation bias - would most people then be able to spot the lie if we like the person to begin with? Insincerity? Manipulation?

Answer: Most of the time you wouldn't be able to spot it.

This is the opposite scenario - a person you do not like, but they're telling the truth. Objectivity matters. Science matters. Critical Thinking matters. Beware of Confirmation Bias - when evaluating your own, your adversaries', or your friends' actions/opinions.

SUMMARY: Donald Trump continues to distance himself from Jeffrey Epstein and his crimes/alleged crimes.

Trump was told by Fox News in advance that they were going to ask this question.

He will never "declassify the Epstein files". On the contrary, if he's not already done so – he'll destroy them.

Moreover, Donald Trump feels guilt (legal/culpability-guilt) associated with Jeffrey Epstein and his illicit "activities".

Inquiries regarding teaching (one-on-one or groups), keynotes, consulting, and press:  


Friday, June 7, 2024


Earlier this week at the Republican House members weekly briefing, there was a suspicious simultaneous and overlapping triple body language tell displayed by Mike Guest, Mike Johnson, and Steve Scalise.

This was NOT a coincidence.

The unusual (almost choreographed in appearance) behavior occurred immediately after Mike Johnson said, "[lip smack], Ah, with that, I'll ahh, I'll take a few questions. [pause, pointing] Front row."
All three men exhibit very similar, some of it, virtually identical body language simultaneously/near-simultaneity.

Just prior to saying, "Front row", Johnson, tilts his head down and trying to look over his glasses, points forward and to his right with his dominant index finger:

Side note: It’s infinitely wiser to use an open finger, palm-up gesture with all digits loosely (partially) extended. Index-finger pointing gestures are negatively-received across all human cultures.

As he points to the journalist, Johnson looks immediately to *his* far right – both rotating his head and neck – augmented by an additional right-lateral gaze with his eyes:

Why is Johnson momentarily (and immediately) looking away from the journalist, at whom he just pointed, and who's about to ask his question? – in this context, it’s highly suggestive of cognitive-emotional dissonance.

Johnson then looks back at the journalist – and immediately displays a regret expression (suggesting foreknowledge). Again, this is prior to the question being asked:

Johnson then begins to look down as he also displays a Tight Tongue Jut (indicative of Disdain, Repulsion, and Disgust).

Note: the journalist has not yet said anything but, "Ah, Mister Speaker ...":

Johnson then pushes his glasses up touching his nose bridge of his glasses with his left index finger (Guest also touches his face, see below) as he continues to tilt his head downward (simultaneously with Reps. Scalise and Guest also tilt their heads down):

Moreover, not only do all three men bend their head/necks forward/down, they also all close their eyes as the journalist begins his question.

Look carefully at Johnson's mouth. As he's pushing up his glasses, his jaw is clenched and thrusting forward (adrenaline surge) whilst he's also displaying an inward lip roll (suppression of strong emotion).

Johnson is trying to suppress and hide his anger:

 Johnson displays a disgust just a second later:

Simultaneous with Johnson's glasses adjustment, Michael Guest displays three consecutive facial touches (anxiety, disbelief) – first his right eyebrow while covering much of the right half of his face:

Congressman Guest, then covers most of his lower face as he rubs his nose (anxiety, disbelief). Simultaneously, Scalise, brushes his right upper chest/shoulder region with his left hand (self-preening):

Then Rep. Guest displays a chin rub (feigned consideration, critical evaluation) as Rep. Scalise simultaneous covers his mouth with his left hand while continuing to look down:

Next, Scalise displays an Inward Lip Roll (suppressing strong emotions) – which he was also doing just 6 seconds prior as this clip begins:

Did you notice Michael Guest swaying side-to-side (anxiety) just prior as Johnson said he’d “take a few questions”?

All three of these men closed their eyes and looked down – and Guest and Johnson had already touched their faces (anxiety) before the journalist had spoken Marjorie Taylor Greene’s name or anything to do with President Biden.

This question was planted/orchestrated. All three men do not care for Marjorie Taylor Greene – however, Johnson, being speaker, is trying to placate Greene by making her (and her power within the Republican party) more visible.

SUMMARY: The simultaneity of this triple body language display is an extremely strong indicator that these three men knew, in advance, the specifics of the first question to be asked.

The question was planted.

Mike Johnson is trying to placate Marjorie Taylor Greene and boost her ego, while at the same time trying to not alienate the other factions of the Republican Party:

Inquiries regarding teaching (one-on-one or groups), keynotes, consulting, and press:

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Body Language and Behavior Analysis No. 4747: Donald Trump is adopting a new Body Language – Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence


Today Fox News aired a new interview with Donald Trump. It was recorded yesterday at Bedminster. What follows is a partial body language analysis of a few crucial nonverbal signals he displayed during this interview:

In this interview, Donald Trump adopted a particular body language behavior that I've only seen him display one other time in the past 9 years (and I've analyzed him thousands of times). What, specifically, was this – and what was its significance given this pattern?...

Donald Trump crossed his ankles when he was sitting. As stated above, for Trump this nonverbal display is extremely rare. 

Trump maintained this leg-foot configuration throughout the vast majority of this interview (although the camera was not always showing a wide-angle, so it's possible this was not quite as frequently displayed as the edited version implies).

Regardless of the person being interviewed, with rare exception, this ankle crossing/lower leg crossing is not a wise leg-foot posture to adopt during an interview. Why? Because it both engenders – as well as a sign of – emotional discomfort and lower confidence.

Due to Trump's extreme propensity for keeping both his feet flat on the floor, this change in his behavior is extremely significant. Again, he kept them this way for most of the interview.

When Trump was asked, "What *are* you looking for in a vice president?"

Trump answers, "So you always have to say, and I, I mean it – is if something should happen to the president, ya have to get somebody can [sic] be a good presid't [sic]. Okay? And I think you have to say that..."

Trump's verbal answer, "if something should happen to the president" – is conspicuous and telling. While he may very well have stated qualities he feels are desirable in a vice president before, he's never implied his own mortality in this context.

Now note what his feet [as the camera switches, displaying a wider view] do immediately after he says this – they squirm:

People show anxiety in their feet all the time – most people just don't look at them (or can't see it very often – and rarely directly [most of the time people are also wearing shoes], feet are beneath a table, not on camera, etc.).

Flexing and extending one's toes and the entire foot/feet within our shoes as well as moving the entire foot/feet and lower legs are further nonverbal manifestations of this anxiety. 

Now look at Trump's hands. Trump's not displaying his usual low steeple (low conventional steeple) in this moment – rather he's covering his left (non-dominant) hand over his right (dominant) hand.

The position of his hands in relation to his groin is a variation of a seated fig leaf – a further signal of vulnerability – and additionally, fear.

Trump also significantly slouches his shoulders forward while elevating them – dynamically shortening his neck ("Turtling") whilst closing his eyelids during this moment. *Extremely low confidence and emotional discomfort*:

SUMMARY: Trump's foot-leg configuration he adopts throughout the majority of this interview indicates his significantly lowered confidence and emotional discomfort as a result of his 34 Felony Convictions for Election Interference.

Donald Trump's body language (coupled with his verbal language) indicates he has significant anxiety about not living long enough to serve a full second term. Trump is feeling his own mortality – and it's showing.

Inquiries regarding teaching (one-on-one or groups), keynotes, consulting, and press:  


Saturday, June 1, 2024

Body Language and Behavior Analysis No. 4746: Todd Blanche's reaction to Donald Trump – and Trump's diminished Impulse Control on the final day of Trial – Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence


The above image was captured on 28 May 2024 just prior to the beginning of proceedings on the final day of Donald Trump's election interference trial. 

The expression on Trump's face in this image is, surprisingly, relatively neutral, however ...
... Trump's left-hand-over-his-right-fist configuration was a common behavior exhibited by him during the trial:

Trump is right-handed. Covering one's dominant hand, clenched in a fist – with the non-dominant hand is classic body language behavior indicative of trying to cover, sequester, and control one's temper. 

Todd Blanche's fingers are interlaced – indicative of frustration, impatience, and sometimes anger. While it's important to not interpret body language in isolation, people often adopt this hand pose when they're trying to appear 'leaderly' and composed: 

Todd Blanche's facial expression tells us much more. Note his eyelids are closed. This is a still image, so this could be simply coincidence (caught during a normal blink) but most likely it's not:

Closing one's eyelids frequently and/or for 'extended blinks' in this context indicates impatience, frustration, disbelief, and possibly anger.

Now look at Blanche's mid and lower face – it displays an amalgam of:

• Frustration **
• Impatience **
• Disbelief **
• Regret *****

In particular, note his mouth and cheek asymmetry – with more expression on Blanche's right side – 'hiding' on the side away from Trump. 

Also note the 'bunching up' of the area above his upper lip, together with his flared nostrils, and moderately clenched jaw.

SUMMARY: This image of Todd Blanche shows a good nonverbal encapsulation of much of his overall experience as Donald Trump's attorney:

• Regret
• Disbelief 
• Frustration
• Impatience

Trump displays diminished impulse control – covering his right (dominant hand) fist with his left hand. A thin veil of restraint. 

Inquiries regarding teaching (one-on-one or groups), keynotes, consulting, and press: