Expert reveals what Kellyanne Conway’s body language at the RNC really means

Kellyanne Conway has been all over the news recently, not so much for political reasons as for her domestic difficulties. Her husband, George Conway, has notoriously sparred with President Trump throughout much of the latter’s administration, and over the past few months even the Conways’ 15-year-old daughter, Claudia, has been expressing her own anti-Trump sentiments on social media. (The family corgis, at least, have yet to weigh in with their own Trumpinions, pro or anti).

While Kellyanne’s family issues may have led her to resign (rather abruptly) from her position as senior White House advisor the day before the Republican National Convention kicked off, she nevertheless went through with her speaking engagement there. What could have been going through her mind on such an occasion? Regret at giving up her insider status and feeling that she was now on the outside looking in on such a momentous occasion? Or perhaps concern that she would stir up still more troubles at home? (Daughter Claudia tweeted that she was “devastated” by the fact that her mom would be speaking at the RNC.) 

While Conway’s words were no doubt carefully scripted, her body language revealed the true story. In order to decode its message, we turned to one of our go-to human behavior and body language experts, Mark Bowden, to watch Kellyanne Conway’s speech at the RNC and tell us what’s really going on with her just days after she stepped down from her White House post.

Kellyanne Conway seemed a little subdued

Bowden begins by explaining that Conway’s not an easy read, as “she is an experienced presenter who has dealt more extreme pressures,” so therefore there’s “very little leaking of any underling intentions, thoughts, and feelings through body language.” Still, he was able to pick up on some subtle signals that he notes are uncharacteristic of her, such as a marked lack of what he calls “descriptor or baton gestures,” the former being movements that show affirmation or denial of what is being said and the latter those that seem to “conduct” the rhythm of the speech. Bowden notes that Conway typically used such gestures when speaking as Trump’s advisor, but at the RNC she’s all “hands and arms down by the side,” which he says is “less powerful and physically communicative” and nothing like the Kellyanne Conway we’d all come to know and … have mixed feelings about.

While Conway maintains strong eye contact and a low blink rate, both indicators of what Bowden describes as “relaxed confidence,” he notes that she appears ” less forthright or aggressive in her body language” than in her White House days and says she seems “more like a mouthpiece than an active piece herself.” At the end of her speech, he sees “no smile of pleasure” and sums up by saying that her body language at the RNC shows “very little enjoyment in this role that lacks the cut and thrust she has become legendary for.”

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