In Wednesday night’s final presidential debate, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton didn’t pay nice at the end (or the beginning) and shake hands, which goes against every rule of playing fair, says Atlanta-based body language expert, Patti Wood. She is also author of “SNAP: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma.”
Patti, who watched the debates, says a traditional handshake sets the rules that both parties are going to play the game with mutual respect—not that Hillary started the beef.
“A handshake symbolizes the ritual of ‘here’s how here we’re gonna play’ and typically signals we’re friends,” Patti says. “And the game begins and you can do things during the game, but Trump broke those rules specifically when he brought those women [Bill Clinton accusers] to the second debate. He broke the rules because he played the game before the game had started.”
A handshake signals you will play the game fair and also marks when the game begins. Not shaking hands is very much about breaking the ritual and rules of interaction, says Patti, and that’s on Donald.
“That’s him. I think Hillary just said, if you’re gonna break the rules, so am I,” Patti says. “Last night she overlapped in conversation and interrupted and took up time, but she said ‘ok he’s a rule breaker, he talks during my turn, I need to do that.’ If she hadn’t done that [been forceful] she would have lost power and status. Covering up her anger in the second debate made her look like a stereotypical woman.”
Patti says Donald has kept the same emotion throughout the debates, choosing anger, a powerful alpha emotion, but that it gets stale.
“He didn’t seem like he was giving new ideas or new content or had something new for us to attach to. He didn’t have verve and energy and novelty.”
Hillary has some great coaching before the third debate, Patti says, because many people felt Donald was using “territorial abuse” during the second debate and lurking behind her.
“She was taking it, it seemed inappropriate to cover her anger and his lurking with a smile. If she hadn’t gotten angry this time, it just wouldn’t have worked.”
Overall, the lack of handshakes said “OK all rules are off” between the candidates, and Hillary is reacting to Donald being a rule breaker.
“It couldn’t help but turn personal after he brought those guests to the second debate,” Patti says.
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