The Power of Obama's Touch

Obama is a hands-on kind of president -- literally.

A hallmark of the new commander-in-chief's expression of disapproval is what has become known as the Obama Touch -- the pat on the shoulder, the shoulder grab or the tap on the back that all are nonverbal cues that signal displeasure and disapproval, reported Politico.

Obama stuck his fingers in Vice President Joe Biden's back after the veep joked about Chief Justice John Roberts flubbing the oath of office last week to show his disapproval.

"[Obama] was castigating him. There's no other way to put it," former FBI special agent Joe Navarro, a specialist in nonverbal communication told Politico. "Biden got it immediately. It looked like a little, subtle touch, but you could immediately see that Vice President Biden was contrite after that."

When the commander-in-chief became irked at a Politico reporter's question during a visit to the White House press room last week he started patting the journo on the shoulder, the site reported.

A second reporter who was given the hand-on-shoulder treatment from Obama during his campaign said he could tell the then-senator was annoyed but the gesture felt "confidential."

The touch "seemed to have a twofold purpose -- to express his annoyance and also to convince you that  you were wrong," the writer told Politico.  

Obama trotted out the touch again to defuse a potential ugly situation when an aggressive fan seeking a photo rushed up to him during a June campaign stop in Philadelphia. Obama stopped and touched the fan's arm then explained to him he couldn't take a photo.

"That was a way of placating, making him feel that 'I'm here, I'm listening to you,'" behavioral analyst and body language expert Maxine Lucille Fiel told Politico.

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