How to read body language.
They say a picture paints 1000 words…we'll see.
I've been trying to think of just one word to describe this picture:
And that word is "Misalignment"
You don't need to be a body language genius to judge that this is a less than warm moment.
There's a lot of work to do to get this relationship where it needs to be but it's by no means impossible.
Liz Truss has a bolt upright body and head position, lack of smile, hands clasped tightly, she looks less than confident which is not helpful in negotiations.
However, she is brand new in post as UK Prime Minister plus just coming through the U.K.'s period of mourning after the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, whom Ms Truss had met just days before.
She might just be given the benefit of the doubt...but not for long.
What to Do With Troubled Relationships
Truss looks intimidated to be there. Supplicant in this once special (coined by Winston Churchill and has been used by successive British prime ministers to describe the UK's strong bond with America) relationship and may have to enlist the support of her own Executive Sponsor (King Charles III) to help move UK plc where it needs to be on US Inc's radar.
With the aid and support of her people, Team Truss could well become more confident with the passage of time, more able to assert the UK's position and needs when required.
To do so, she will need to clearly articulate the UK's value to the US relationship if it is to thrive and endure. After all, the UK has neither the people, nor economic might to rival US / Chinese presence on the World stage.
We must therefore identify and assert a differentiated and relevant quality; a quality that is recognised as being desirable by both the US and Chinese if we are to merit a seat at the global economic table.
Different is better than better
Joe Biden looks completely at ease in these surroundings and with his place in these surroundings. Admittedly, he's on home turf and also the acknowledged leader of the free world ...so there's that.
However, the USA's own place in the world is also changing, so there's no room for complacency in this department either.
Biden and Truss are not even mirroring each other (more on mirroring here) - they are not aligned and that's going to be a problematic for their respective account teams.
Relationships are complex beasts with many moving parts and often changing or competing priorities.
Knowing where and when to invest in big relationships and what messages to give is vital if progress is to be made.