Body Language of the Leaders

In the carefully staged meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un, despite the intention to set an equal stage, Trump got the upper hand in the body language game.

Power Patting

Trump was the first to draw his hand and the handshake lasted almost twelve seconds and incorporated several ‘power pats’, issued by Trump.

Before they entered the building, Trump touched Kim Jong-un either on his back arm or his back several times more. This gesture appears caring, as though the older man were guiding, the younger. But what the power patting gesture really says is, ‘I’m in control”.

At the end of the meeting, there was some more back patting, this time it was reciprocated by Kim, but Trump had to have the last pat.

Side by Side

With a neutral setting of sitting side by side, the smaller man looked even more uncomfortable.
Kim appeared to be making an effort to lean in towards Trump, but he looked awkward as he perched towards the edge of the chair, as though he was not sure if he would remain seated.

As they sat in silence posing for photographs, Trump held his hands in his signature ‘steeple’ pose which is a sign of confidence, but his fingers were nervously tapping.

To Smile or Not to Smile

For the most part, Trump remained stony-faced with his usual half smirk uneven smile and narrowed eyes. Kim is usually seen smiling throughout his public appearances (it has been reported that a smile was edited onto his face on photos aired on Russian TV), but his nervousness gave him a frozen ‘deer in headlights’ look, and the times when he did smile it looked forced.

There was one particular smile during this meeting, with an upturned mouth and teeth showing – it came across as awkward.

It’s all in the eyes

Trump looked directly into Kim’s eyes whenever he could. There are cultural differences regarding eye contact, and it appeared that Trump used that to his advantage. There were moments when Kim’s eyes were looking to the floor or quickly darting around the room again a sign of lack of confidence.

The light banter between Trump and the media produced a puzzled look on Kim’s face. Strange, that Trump would comment on his appearance and the need to have ‘handsome photos’, I believe that there was an underlying message that Trump was demonstrating that he had control over the media.

Kim looked like a fish out of the water, while Trump clearly took and held the position of alpha male throughout the meeting.

Here’s what Fox Business had to say on the issue of the body language of the leaders. Tonya Reiman, body language expert shares her opinion.

Image Wikimedia Commons

The comments in this article are purely my observation.


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