Nonverbal Communication Analysis №3740: Donald Trump Thanks Anthony Weiner — Body Language and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
On Sunday during a rally in Nevada, Donald Trump said, “We never thought we were going to say, ‘Thank you’ to Anthony Weiner”.
Question: When people are thankful, do they sometimes smile.
Question: Is Trump smiling as he professes this new-found thank you to Anthony Weiner?
Answer: No (but many will mistake it for one).
What follows is a partial nonverbal analysis of a crucial segment of the above mentioned event.
Many nonverbal novices (and most otherwise socially adept professionals) will confuse subtle (or even moderate) contempt for a partial smile. They couldn’t be more wrong.
In the image above (captured during 0:09), Mr. Trump’s eyebrows lowering, his eyelids are partially closed, the left corner of his mouth is beginning to be pulled up and laterally — along with a similar vectoring (as well as tightening) of the left portion of his “mustache area” (region between upper lip and nose regardless of the presence of facial hair or gender).
It’s absolutely true that during a sincere smile, there is always (a sometimes subtle but most of the time not-so-subtle) partial eyelid closure. Sometimes (particularly when punctuated with sincere laughter) the eyelid closure may be momentarily complete. In the above image however, Mr. Trump’s eyelid closure (0:10.2) is not accompanied by an upward movement of the cheek muscles (which is required with all sincere smiles). This variety of eyelid closure involves almost exclusively Trump’s upper eyelids. This is but one (but very important) signal that Trump’s smile is insincere.
Note the furrow between the left corner of Donald Trump’s mouth running up to the left lateral portion of his nose. This is termed the “nasolabial fold”. Its relative prominence on Trump’s left is also indicative of contempt (as is the further tightening of his left mustache area).
In this last image (0:10.8), Trump’s mouth component of his contempt is slightly more developed. His partial eyelid (as well as his complete eyelid closure above) in this context are examples of contempt amplifiers (eyelid closure of any degree is not required during contempt displays — but it does augment the baseline expression and emotion).
Summary: This is an excellent example of a subtle contempt display. Moreover its presence during a statement of a “thank you” is outstanding example of a different variety — this one of a nonverbal expression contradicting a verbal expression. Whenever simultaneous verbal and a nonverbal messages are in disagreement — it’s the nonverbal one which ‘speaks’ the truth.
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.