A body language expert told the BBC what she thought of the interactions between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin during their highly anticipated meeting Friday.
Mary Civiello gave her assessment of three different signals that the world leaders gave during their highly anticipated meeting.
“You get the feeling that they’re both very self-confident, alpha males, but their body language [is] very very different,” Civiello said.
“Very interesting right from the get-go,” she added. “Look very carefully at that handshake, something that Trump has paid a lot of attention to.”
“They had an equal handshake,” she explained, “it wasn’t one on top or dominant than the other. But what was interesting is that Trump then got a leg up by putting an arm under Putin. That’s a dominant move.”
“If you’re meeting somebody that you’re a little cowed by,” she continued, “or you’re a little unsure of yourself with, you would never add an extra reach or touch under their arm. And then he doubled down on that move when they were side by side and Trump puts his arm on Putin’s back. Again, a dominant move.”
“The first thing I noticed when they were seated in those chairs was that Trump was far more comfortable than Putin,” Civiello said. “Putin of course is much shorter than Trump and he’s smaller in that chair. So it appeared that Putin was trying to compensate by putting his arms akimbo on the sides of the chair.”
“Trump, forget that!” she exclaimed. “He leans forward with his arms on his knees, very much kind of a macho move. And then if you’ll notice his hands were kind of in a steeple position.”
“Whereas if you go back with Putin,” she added, “at one point [he’s] kinda ringing one finger then ringing another finger. Again, this looks like an unsure or nervous body position.”
“When Trump talks or addresses the crowd, complete eye contact,” she explained, “when he looked over at Putin, eye contact with him.”
“Putin on the other hand, not great eye contact at all, looking down most of the time, and then glancing up at the end,” she concluded. “It gives us the feeling that he either doesn’t really want to be there, perhaps he is nervous or sees this as kinda useless, and he can’t wait to get in the back room.”
The meeting between the two global leaders came occurred during the G-20 economic summit on Friday. The White House indicated that Trump brought up the subject of Russian meddling in the U.S. election, while the Kremlin claimed that the president accepted Putin’s insistence that there was no interference, contradicting his account.