Body Language Analysis №3399: The Russians are Confident — Sergey Lavrov, Rex Tillerson, and Donald Trump — Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence (PHOTOS)
Maybe you’ve heard? The Russians came to town. Last Wednesday Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak visited Washington and met with Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson. The image above shows Minister Lavrov and Secretary Tillerson at the State Department.
This particular moment contains some profound nonverbal tells. An analysis follows…
While Minister Lavrov is speaking, Secretary Tillerson’s facial expression is primarily that of bitterness and regret — with a secondary (minor) emotion of anger.
Note Tillerson’s hands are configured in what is known as a modified “Fig Leaf” (aka “Genital Guarding”). This is a significantly beta nonverbal display and should never be used among geopolitical equals (with the exceptions of funerals, weddings, certain military ceremonies [e.g., at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier], and in the presence of high-level religious figures).
Holding his own hands is pulling Tillerson’s shoulders forward and down — making him look weak. In contrast, Lavrov’s shoulders are straight, square and strong. The Russian projects power and assertiveness — while in comparison, the American looks diminutive and weakened.
You may have also noticed that Tillerson is squeezing his fingers. Finger squeezing is a subset of hand-wringing behavior — both of which are high anxiety displays. In particular, these are frequently displayed during times of higher levels of stress when it’s felt that the likelihood of a successful outcome is increasing small or there are ‘feelings of no recourse’.
Tillerson’s feet are relatively close together while Lavrov’s are positioned in the more recommended mode — slightly less than a shoulder’s width apart. In comparison, Tillerson looks like he is ‘At Attention’ and that Lavrov is his commanding officer.
Standing with your feet close together — particularly when next to someone with a broad stance — engenders feelings of inferiority and subordination. It will lower your confidence (even if standing alone) and — as military leaders knew millennia ago — it makes one much more likely to take orders and acquiesce.
Incredibly, standing with one’s feet close together will also cause thoughts and speech to be less fluid.
Thus if you want to improve your ability to:
- Think on your feet
- Speak on your feet
- Be confident and project confidence
- Be authoritative and project authority
- Intimidate another person
- Look like a leader
…then stand like Sergey — and not like Rex.
Summary: While we cannot say specifically why — we can be absolutely sure, that in this moment — Secretary Tillerson’s confidence is low while Minister Lavrov’s confidence is high. This is especially noteworthy for Tillerson is on his home soil.
This post and the associated website serve as reference sources for the art and science of Body Language/Nonverbal Communication. The views and opinions expressed here 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 — not to advance any political, religious or other agenda.