Body Language Analysis №4098: President Trump and Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rosselló — A Candid Moment in the Oval Office — Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
During 1:32 in the above video, President Trump initiates a handshake. He does so with a palm-up configuration (as is typical for the President) — and in so doing, subordinates himself.
Moreover, Trump’s position on the right hand side of the “stage” (Oval Office) allows Governor Rossello to then have the more alpha position. Rossello’s hand, from our view, covers Trump’s hand. The Governor amplifies his alpha status further by grabbing the President’s elbow with his left hand.
Very few people try this “elbow grab” with Donald Trump. This evokes anger in the President and he pulls his hand away after, what for him, was an abnormally brief handshake. Note the evanescent features of anger on President Trump — especially his clenched jaw and his mid facial tension.
Watch this portion of the video at regular speed and again at 1/2 and 1/4 speed as the still image does not capture its dynamic nature.
The President then displays Disgust as well as a Forward Lip Purse. A forward lip purse indicates feelings of secret disagreement and/or clandestine plan(s).
Later in the same meeting, at 6:17, President Trump initiates another handshake and this time Governor Rossello clasps the underside/backside of Trump’s hand in a classic “Double-Hander”.
The Governor then further up-regulates his alpha tone of this handshake by moving is left hand on top of the President’s — while both men then transition to a “Bitter Smile” facial expression. Each leader also has a component of frustration (although President Trump’s frustration is greater in this moment).
Summary: Although Ricardo Rossello is subordinate to Donald Trump, the Governor’s body language during these moments were significantly more alpha than the President’s. While both men are partially suppressing their frustration, President Trump is also trying to conceal his anger.
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.