Body Language Analysis №4382: Why is Donald Trump Leaning Forward? — Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence (PHOTOS)
In the past several days, it’s been reported that Donald Trump has been “standing weird”. Although the President’s leaning-forward posture has been displayed in the past, recently this stance has been used more consistently. Why? What are the body language ramifications?
Donald Trump is standing with this posture — primarily because he has specially crafted, ‘lift shoes’. His added 2.5–3.5 inch heel-height causes him to lean forward. This configuration is accentuated by his obesity.
Trump is quite self-conscious about his height. President Trump’s claimed height is 6'3" — yet, this is demonstrably false. In the above photo, taken on the morning of his inauguration, Trump is clearly approximately 0.5 inch shorter than President Obama (Obama’s feet are further apart, which effectively lowers his height a bit, relative to Trump).
It’s notable that Ronny Jackson, M.D. — Trump’s White House physician for the first 15 months of his administration — also served the same role for Barack Obama. President Obama’s height, per Jackson’s medical reports, was listed at 6'1".
Both Trump and Obama have been routinely photographed standing next to many athletes — thus, we can use these others’ registered height’s as cross-checks. Here’s an image of Trump standing next to Tiger Woods (presumably, both men are wearing golf shoes). Woods’ reported height is 6'1".
Here’s another photo Donald Trump leaning forward during a political rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin on 27 April 2019. Take note of how his arms hang with a forward angle, relative to his torso, rather than along side of his body.
Trump was leaning forward in this same style while greeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his visit to the White House on 11 October 2017.
Notice also the knee-wrinkle on each man’s pants. Trudeau is listed as 6'2", but his knee-wrinkle is much higher than Trump’s (by approximately 6–8 inches). While there exists slight variations of extremity proportions from person-to-person, Trump’s knee-wrinkle corresponds to someone of considerably shorter stature.
SUMMARY: Donald Trump’s forward-leaning posture is caused by his use of lift-shoes. This odd stature is further exacerbated by his obesity.
Such forward-leaning posture has the secondary body language effect of encroaching into others’ personal space (intimate space) during greetings and other interactions. In addition to him being physically closer, we also feel emotionally uncomfortable whenever we think something/someone may fall over onto us.
This narcissistic stance amplifies any similar nonverbal behavior already present — e.g., pulling/yanking-style handshakes, the false intimacy of patting others’ shoulders, touching others’ backs/falsely guiding, feigned embracing, etc.
Thus, while Donald Trump uses shoe lifts because he feels self-conscious about his height, they have the secondary body language effect of physical intimidation.
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This website serves as a reference source for the art and science of Body Language/Nonverbal Communication. The views and opinions expressed on this website 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.