Donald Trump’s first international trip as President of United States had its fair share of ups and downs. There were several standout moments which made the headlines, especially his awkward mannerism at the NATO summit. Even though he did not do a lot of public speaking, his typical handshake, shoving to get in the front of the pack, and the deadpan reaction from NATO leaders to his speech did not go unnoticed.
Trump’s actions were not taken were kindly by the international media. The front page of Belgium’s Le Soir read, “Trump shoves his allies” whereas Handelsblatt, a financial newspaper in Germany termed him “Boor in chief.” An editorial in Le Monde called him “brutal and heavy-handed.”
Interestingly, there was a stark difference in Trump’s mannerism in Saudi Arabia and Israel where he was the center of attention and at NATO Summit. He shared the stage with other world leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, and other key allies at the summit, as reported by TIME.
Body language experts analyzed his mannerism at NATO to figure out why he went from being the perfect diplomat in the Middle East to the disrupter at the summit.
President Trump’s “shove”
President Trump appeared to push Montenegro’s Prime Minister, Dusko Markovic, to get in front of the group at a photo call for world leaders. Markovic called it a “harmless situation” and further added that “It is only natural for the president of the United States to be in the front row.” Sean Spicer also clarified that the position was predetermined and Trump was merely moving to the spot reserved for him.
According to a London-based renowned body language expert, India Ford, Trump’s actions were aggressive bullying gesture and displayed a high sense of entitlement. The behavior displayed after the shove was his go-to pose which is considered arrogant and means that one is looking down on people.
India Ford further added that Trump’s fig leaf pose indicates that he was feeling vulnerable. It was possible that the woman may have said something negative to him. As reported by CBS8, according to body language expert Tonya Reiman, the actions say “he believes he is the most important person there.”
Donald Trump and Macron’s Handshake
French President, Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump had a few awkward encounters during the summit. Macron walked up the red carpet towards the NATO leaders and at the last second swerved to greet Merkel instead of Trump, as reported by Mic. Experts believe that this suggests that for Macron, the most powerful person in the group was Merkel and not Trump.
After the swerve, when finally Macron greeted Trump, the latter reciprocated with an aggressive handshake. Trump started pulling Macron towards his own face which according to experts is Trump’s way of telling him that he will have to come to Trump, whether he liked it or not. Trump’s response here seems a little appropriate based on what Macron had pulled off. According to Peter Collett, an expert on body language, Trump’s parting pat on the upper arm of Macron was a status reminder of his seniority.
However, experts are divided on Trump’s second handshake with Macron. The alpha-male handshake was very long such that their knuckles started turning white. Joe Navarro, a retired FBI counterintelligence and counterterrorism operative, said that handshakes are supposed to be about diplomacy not some sort of sophomoric challenge between two alpha males.
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According to India Ford, Trump’s hand was clutched around Macron indicating that he was confrontational. However, Macron returned the favor with an aggressive handshake which suggests that he sees himself as equal to Trump. Reiman believes that it is important for Trump to have control. However with Macron, he was in a position to let go. She concluded that Donald Trump’s body language depicts that he feels “It’s all about me.”
[Featured Image by Peter Dejong/AP Images]