Donald Trump's Body Language Reveals Vulnerability in Megyn Kelly Interview
With rounded shoulders, open palms and pursed lips, the presidential candidate avoided his emotional mainstay of outrage and instead displayed openness and even pain, as Kelly's smiles revealed miles about her inner arc through the Fox special. A body language expert breaks it down.
In a well-orchestrated rapprochement, Donald Trump and Megyn Kelly finally put their beef to bed last night during an hour-long interview special on Fox. In addition to discussing their reconciliation after the pair's very public post-Republican debate squabble that may or may not have referenced Kelly's monthly cycle, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and the Fox News anchor delved deep into Trump's personal history, taking on intimate topics including the death of his brother and his childhood experience with bullies.
According to body language expert Lillian Glass, Ph.D., who consulted with Caitlin Jenner on feminizing her speech patterns and body language, these more personal talking points — along with his accompanying engaged, forward-leaning posture and self-reflective side-long glances — revealed a new, more vulnerable side of the inflammatory figure. On the other hand, Kelly's own body language seemed to portray that she hasn't forgotten Trump's misogynistic comments — despite her own declaration that the pair had made up. Read on for the full breakdown.
Trump leaned in (see photo above): In general, Trump was more vulnerable, open, softer and self-reflecting than we have ever seen him before. This showed in his body language where he leaned forward with more rounded shoulders.
Trump usually sits erect in a very confident pose, but throughout the interview he appears more hunched over, leaning forward towards Kelly in an attempt to try to really engage with her one-on-one and hear what she has to say. His posture indicated that he was letting his guard down and was open to this interview.
Trump was handsy (in a good way): When he showed the palms of his hands as he spoke, it indicated that he was being forthright and genuine. For example, Trump openly admitted that he made a mistake regarding [John] McCain and [Carly] Fiorina and then stated that he wanted to move forward, gesturing with open palms to signal honesty. His body language displayed contrition and that he was being sincere as he looked away to reflect on what he said in the past.
Trump betrayed emotions beyond the usual outrage: In talking about his alcoholic brother, Freddy, who died in 1981 at the age of 43, Trump pursed his lips, frowned and looked away, as this is obviously a painful subject for him. His vocal tone was soft and his facial expression showed vulnerability. Though a subject of discomfort, he openly explained how his brother’s actions led him on the path of never taking a drink. He then admitted to Kelly that he has other problems (though refusing to tell her what they are). Overall, this was very uncharacteristic of Trump, as he has never showed this much openness before nor admitted that there is anything wrong with him.
Kelly's smile said miles: While Trump discussed the subject of bullying, saying that it can happen when you are 55, Kelly interjected that it can happen at [age] 45 and then smiled with a smirk, indicating that she had felt bullied by Trump. Trump didn't acknowledge the reference and immediately followed up with, “You have to get over it.”
Kelly's vocal tone and volume showed some force in her questioning about Heidi Cruz [in March, Trump tweeted an unflattering, mocking photo comparing Cruz's looks to his supermodel wife Melania's], and Trump, in a softer vocal tone, uncharacteristically admitted he could have done without going there, then went on to deny remorse: "I'm not walking it back."
Kelly's demeanor had an arc: The interview started with Kelly using a somewhat forceful voice to set the tone and a serious facial expression worn like a suit of armor. Midway, she began to drop her guard, following an exchange that began with a smug expression as she referenced his history of suing people — could he go four years without suing anyone if he is president? Trump responded by discussing China, as well as openly addressing his past litigation in business. By the end of the show, Kelly indicated that she felt vindicated, relieved and glad that their relationship had been repaired with an authentic, beaming smile — raised cheeks, showing teeth, eyes squinched. With that same smile, she also displayed pride, as Kelly has become one of the few journalists to get Trump to speak that openly and genuinely.