The Art of Body Language: Donald Trump Edition
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere for the past year or so, you will be very familiar with Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign and all the ludicrous comments, antagonistic viewpoints, and of course the promise of a ‘wall’ that has been spouting. A naturally charismatic and easily influential speaker, Trump has garnered more support than many thought possible. One thing many experts have picked up on since Trump’s campaign has gained significant traction: his body language and the way he uses it to inspire his fans and supporters. Let’s take a quick look at some of the body language Donald Trump has been using throughout the campaign and what it means.
Shrug it off:
It seems like whenever Trump can’t answer a question or if someone has made a defamatory statement concerning his politics or his beliefs, he shrugs his shoulders. It’s a very submissive gesture on the whole; a gesture that shows uncertainty. You would think that this would weaken Trump’s argument or his character, but conversely it seems to strengthen it. Perhaps in shrugging his shoulders, Trump is attempting to placate the crowd and show some contrition for his rather inflammatory beliefs. Maybe too, this action shows the crowd how he is able to ‘shrug off’ the negative comments and accusations lobbed at him by fellow politicians, giving his argument and character the power that seems to propel him further in the political sphere. Or, maybe he actually just doesn’t care, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
If your eyes are rollin’…
Rolling your eyes is generally a way to show contempt and displeasure with something or someone. It’s a way to show that you think someone or something is stupid, or beneath you or a way of sharing an inside joke with a friend over how absurd a situation or a statement might be. Trump uses this whenever another candidate says something he disagrees with, or that runs contrary to his platforms. He uses the gesture here to invalidate and belittle his fellow candidates, giving more power to his opinion and his views.
…With the shape of an L on his forehead.
Trump uses an ok symbol made by putting the first finger and thumb together in a circle with the other fingers of the hand straight up- something we’ve seen countless times before, and something you may consider to be the universal symbol for ‘ok’, especially if you’ve gone diving! Trump uses this to emphasize that he’s done a good job, that his opinion is correct or that he believes in the work someone else has done. Experts over at Euronews have noticed that he often pairs the ‘ok’ symbol with an upwards-pointing ‘L’ shape, using the same hand. They think this gesture may be a way of implying precision- underlining that he’s got his point perfectly, that his ideas are flawless and bang-on in terms of accuracy. If this is the case, he’s certainly illustrating his conviction in his platform and in the policies he wishes to put in place.
Pointing in the right direction.
Pointing with the index finger and a closed fist is a very aggressive gesture, one considered rude by many cultures and one that definitely carries a high impact. Many politicians avoid pointing aggressively during speeches because it can be interpreted aggressively, but Trump uses the gesture at every possible turn. To be fair to him, this gesture has been something he’s made into a bit of a trademark ever since his television program, “The Apprentice,” debuted. Some body language experts have noticed that Trump’s point can sometimes turn into more of a claw when talking about his running mate Hillary Clinton, seeming to imply a sinister element to her character.
Trump’s body language seems to be consistent throughout his campaign, and many specialists believe he has not been coached. They also seem to state that the body language links up with all other forms of communication, making Trump seem as if he really and truly believes what he is saying and what he is doing- there’s nothing fake about his beliefs in his platform. If this is the case, perhaps we all have a little more to worry about than a few eye rolls.