Nonverbal Communication Analysis №3903: Rex Tillerson Disagrees with Donald Trump — Body Language and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

This image of Rex Tillerson and Donald Trump was taken on Friday 7 April 2017 at Mar-a-Lago.

The Secretary of State and the President were in the midst of their second-day meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his staff.

It also happened to be the day after 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched into Syria striking Shayrat Airbase. Trump had ordered the attack in retaliation for the Syrian government’s Khan Shaykhun chemical attack which occurred on 4 April 2017. This was perpetrated with the release of toxic gas, most likely sarin — killing at least 74 people while injuring at least 557.

At the time of this photo, President Trump was discussing the missile attack (although what detail was not published). Rex Tillerson’s hands are configured in a what is known as a “Pistol Steeple”. This is a multiple nonverbal metaphor — for the position of his hands, with the three least dominant fingers on each hand contracted/flexed but the index finger (forefinger) of each hand extended resembles a small firearm — and also roughly approximates the way some people hold a handgun.

But crucially, from a nonverbal perspective, the pistol steeple also says, “I’m shooting down your idea”, “I strongly disagree with you”. We can be sure whatever, specific Syrian War nuance Donald Trump is discussing — Rex Tillerson doesn’t like what he’s hearing.

Additionally, the index fingers of Tillerson’s pistol steeple are being held over his mouth/lips (e.g., often times this body language signal is displayed with the hands held in front of the abdomen, chest or lower neck, etc.). This variation tells us that the Secretary of State believed the President was either speaking too freely, was in error, was being misleading, or being deceptive. Rex Tillerson was wanting Donald Trump to be quiet — quite literally silently shushing the commander in chief.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis №3902: Donald Trump and Xi Jinping — Power, Control, and Handshakes

Nonverbal Communication Analysis №3900: Donald Trump’s Statement Regarding US Retaliation for Syria’s Chemical Weapons Attack

Nonverbal Communication Analysis №3899: President Trump regarding Poison Gas Attack in Syria

Nonverbal Communication Analysis №3869: James Clapper regarding Alleged Wiretap of Trump

Nonverbal Communication Analysis №3841: Tom Brady’s and Roger Goodell’s Handshake after Super Bowl LI

Nonverbal Communication Analysis №3811: Hayden Panettiere, Stephen Colbert and Personal Space

Nonverbal Communication Analysis №3659: Ryan Lochte’s “Today Show” Interview regarding Alleged Rio Robbery

Nonverbal Communication Analysis №3591: Jo Cox, The Brexit and Sincere Smiles

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.

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