Body Language Expert Explains Trump's Awkward Day At The NATO Summit

Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Duško Marković and some handshakes
Body Language Expert Explains Trump's Awkward Day At The NATO Summit

Trump’s body language at the NATO Summit


It may be mere speculation that Donald Trump is compensating for something. Yes, certain behavior may give that impression. Let me analyze Donald Trump’s body language when he met Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Duško Marković and other leaders at the NATO Summit in Brussels.









Donald Trump’s alpha male body language tics


It may be mere speculation that Donald Trump is compensating for something. Yes, certain behavior may give that impression.

I guess most people agree that Trump wants to be seen as an alpha male. We needn’t have to look further than to his body language to confirm that. It seems to be so important to him — that his desperate desire appears more often as insecurity than as a sign of strength. Someone with strong self-confidence wouldn’t do it like that. Even though it is good to remember former US presidents; most of them showed some kind of bit strange alpha male behavior — even Barack Obama. That’s how US-Presidents do it! But all that is harmless in comparison to Donald Trump’s strange behavior and all the handshake gates. His special handshake style came under media scrutiny after meetings with the Japanese and Canadian leaders.






As far as Macron’s concerned, Merkel is the most important person in the line-up, and she is a female. When he swerves towards her, you can see Trump’s concentrated mimic as if he is thinking “Stop, wait for a second — I’m the most important person here.” Usually, in any line-up, you’d go first to the person who demands the most respect. In Macron’s eyes that seem to be Merkel and Trump is not pleased.

Right after Macron swerves, Trump and the French leader shared a painful-looking handshake that just went on and on.

What Trump is doing in that situation is showing Macron who’s the boss. It’s another aggressive move by Trump; he’s pulling Macron towards his face, and he’s saying, “You will do what want I want, whether you like it or not.” We can see Macron trying to get away from the awkward situation by putting his arms on Trump to stop him from pulling him inwards.




The 2nd handshake


Macron appeared to be ready for Trump when they met for lunch at the US embassy in Brussels ahead of a NATO summit. As if the first handshake wasn’t awkward enough, the pair locked hands for so long that their knuckles started turning white during another exchange.

When Trump met Emmanuel Macron, those alpha males presented us with some funny moments. Trump — used to power plays to underline his masculinity and status with every public appearance — was the underdog this time. We have seen a power play during the handshakes. Testosterone and an iron grip later Trump tried to escape a situation he usually initiates. We can see it in the video; the knuckles of both are getting white, a mini arm wrestling, all muscles tight; we see their jaws clenching and faces tightening. Then Trump finally seemed ready to pull away. And the winner — if we allow us to see it as a competition — is Emmanuel Macron.




Body check


Mr. Trump pushed — or should I say slapped — aside the prime minister of Montenegro, Mr. Duško Marković, to get in the front row. He seemed to be angry about the situation. It is such an aggressive, bullying gesture by Trump. I think it displays his very high sense of entitlement. Right after Trump managed to push Markovic away, he showed an unnatural mimic and bossy behavior, he pushes his head back and just his chin out. That is a very arrogant pose to be in because it means you’re looking down at people. Something that is neither appropriate nor a signal of natural confidence.

In any situation where Trump feels mildly threatened, he goes into that pose. It seems to be a learned behavior. After standing in that arrogant position, he then displays a very vulnerable pose by going into the fig leaf. You only really get into the fig leaf pose — where you cover a very vulnerable part of the body — when you start to feel vulnerable. Maybe the woman he was talking to said something negative about him. Look at his face; he looks like a kid being told off.

Assistance for your media appearance


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By the way, many people suffer from very intense stage fright during their appearances in the media and suffer through the performance. That's a pity because that is not necessary with appropriate help. Just in case ...



How do you interpret the body language at that event?

1 Comment

  1. “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

    Theodore Roosevelt


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This article is a short excerpt from the more comprehensive course materials my clients receive in a group or individual training or coaching.

Published: May 27, 2017
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: August 20th, 2023
Translation: ./.
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