President Uhuru Kenyatta solidified the greater strengthening of ties between Kenya and America during his trip this week to the United States to meet President Donald Trump as well as business executives.
The United States Government held a high-level Cabinet meeting with many major figures from President Trump’s administration for the Kenyan delegation followed by a private discussion in the Oval Office with President and Mrs Kenyatta and President and Mrs Trump.
Such high-level full Cabinet representation for a foreign leader only occurs for America’s closest allies.
In the world of global diplomacy, body language speaks more than words.
Early in the American leader’s presidency we saw very uncomfortable strained body posturing between him and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, dominance posturing with French President Emmanuel Macron, and later exacerbated bored posture with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
In meeting another person, one’s body posturing and movements comprise 55 per cent of someone’s opinion about the other individual’s competence.
Tone of voice represents 38 per cent of subconscious opinion while the words we speak only make up seven per cent.
Since we already know that the US President famously relies on his gut feeling thus ignoring the science behind decision making, he is more likely to be fooled by his subconscious urges triggered by other peoples’ body postures. The reward for such posturing? Psychological dominance by or to others.
In watching the videos and photos of the meetings, how did President Kenyatta do compared to President Trump? The Kenyan President clearly won the posturing game.
President Trump used an unsure subservient posture seated back with arms straight down during the Cabinet meeting while President Kenyatta engaged him with forward hands and wide elbows on the table as a dominant position with powerful wide and definitive arm movements. During the exchange, President Kenyatta even showcased our world-famous Kenyan humour that got the whole room laughing.
Later in the White House’s Oval Office, President Kenyatta scored a dominant handshake over President Trump similar to how the French President outshone the American leader in power posturing. Kenyan President also sat with a dominant wide body posture with legs and elbows out.
Additionally, the White House put out a summary video of the engagement where it conveniently edited out the majority of the time where President Trump appeared clearly weaker as compared to the two earlier videos.
The White House team clearly understands the psychology of the subconscious brain.
How can you mimic President Kenyatta’s success and present a powerful dominant demeanour? First, the human brain perceives individuals with wide body frames as more competent. Not wide bodies, but the body’s frame including the arms and legs. So, when sitting or standing, make your shoulders as broad as possible and not slouched.
Second, maintain your elbows out and away from your body all the while make your wrists straight and never bent during hand or arm movements.
Keeping your elbows close to your side or bending your wrist makes others subconsciously view you as weak.
Third, if you place your hands on a table during a meeting, put your whole arm on the table to include your elbows and push your elbows out on the table as far as possible with your hands extended far forward.
These simple tips will help you gain a psychological advantage over others in every meeting.