LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES
Bush's Body Language Reveals Feelings About World Leaders
Aired June 2, 2003 - 19:19 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR: Now the annual G-8 summit yesterday in Evian, France. President Bush and French President Jacques Chirac took pains to shift focus away from their rift over the Iraq war.
The two leaders greeted each other with a handshake, not the embrace and kiss on both cheeks customary for French dignitaries. Chirac called his meeting with Mr. Bush, quote, "very positive."
What can body language at the G-8 summit tell us beyond what the participants say about it? Communications analyst Richard Green has sharpened and scrutinized the communicating skills of presidents and other politicians the world over. He's the noted author of "Words That Shook the World" and he joins us in our L.A. bureau tonight.
Richard, thanks for being with us.
RICHARD GREEN, "WORDS THAT SHOOK THE WORLD" AUTHOR: No problem.
COOPER: I'm often kind of skeptical about this whole body reading language. But let's see how it plays out, and I'll tell at the end if I buy it now.
Let's look at the images of Bush with Chirac. Tell us what you see.
GREEN: Well, what's very interesting -- George Bush is a great people person. What he's doing here, which is very significant, he's not that warm, very friendly, slap on the back Texas guy that he normally is. He's showing some great distance, he's standing upright, he's keeping his center, his distance from Chirac.
And when someone does that, as opposed to leaning forward and being courteous and gracious and connecting like Clinton would come and hug people, you're holding that distance, the body communicates as much as 93 percent of what you actually are communicating. The words in some studies are as little as 7 percent.
COOPER: Interesting. Well, let's compare that to some of the way he shook hands and said hello to some of the other world leaders. We have images of him with Japan's prime minister Koizumi. Let's take a look at this. Much closer, yes?
GREEN: Well, this is George Bush at his best. He has great people skills. He's very -- what we call kinesthetic, very touchy- feely, very tactile, which is really one of the reasons that people love him. And the fact is that George Bush's body language is true to who he is. When he's walking past Yasser Arafat at the United Nations, he's not pretending to be nice or diplomatic. When he's being friendly with the Japanese prime minister, he's not pretending to be anything other than what he is. That is the reason his poll ratings are high is because he's got this huge sincerity in his body language.
Back with Chirac, though, notice that he did not extend his hand very far. When you extend your hand, you are going to the other person's point of view, you are surrendering some of your authority. He pulled Chirac in, which is very unusual for someone who is visiting in another person's country.
COOPER: The message, what, being that he is in control of it?
GREEN: The message is, "I'm in control. I'm going to be cordial, I'm going to be diplomatic. I'm going to be polite. But you're here, my friend, even though we're on your turf, we're dealing with my terms."
COOPER: Let's look at him with Tony Blair, prime minister of Britain.
We're going to get that picture up in a second. But again, it's -- I'm told it was sort of a back slap -- actually, this is Chirac with Blair, which is far different than Chirac with Bush.
GREEN: Notice here Tony Blair is leaning toward Jacques Chirac. That is a more friendly gesture. That is a more Clintonesque, Reagannesque gesture.
Bush is a black and white body language guy. If he likes you, he'll be warm and effusive and be like Tony Blair is to Chirac there. If he doesn't, he will basically be giving you nothing but ice.
COOPER: For me, one of the odder shots had to be this next one we're going to show you, which is Bush with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, an awkward holding of hands.
GREEN: Well, Prince Abdullah is really in control there. Bush is off balance a little bit. Abdullah is holding Bush's hand at a very unnatural high level. Abdullah is very centered, his big pot belly is there. And Bush seems to be deferring in his body language; in other pictures more so than this one to that one.
Is it because the Bush family is so connected to the Saudi family and so differential, that's what some people might say. But clearly, the power person there in that picture is Prince Abdullah, not George Bush.
COOPER: Fascinating stuff. Richard Green, appreciate you joining us. It was good to hear it. You made me believe.
GREEN: Well, we'll hopefully talk some more. There's a lot more to this stuff. It is not hocus pocus.
COOPER: OK, cool. Richard Green, appreciate you joining us. Thank you very much.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com