Optics are important. Everywhere you look you need to see some sort of beauty. It’s the aesthetics that really count nowadays. From a theater or a worship center to the backdrop of a Presidential news conference, optics are important. But optics are not just about what people see around you or what you are wearing, optics include facial and body language. Where are your hands? How are your hands sitting? Which direction are you looking? Are you looking right at the person that is interviewing you?
Lighting in a building is set up for reasons. First, lighting is so that people can see–this is a given. There are some lights that are brighter than others. For instance, lights in a foyer may be brighter than the lights in a theater. It is so you are able to find the theater in to watch the movie for which you’ve paid. Once inside the theater, it’s a little more dim because it is preparing your mind for lights to be out so the only lights in the room (except for the walkway lights) will be from the movie on the screen. No one wants to be in a movie theater with bright lights on because we’ve been conditioned to watch movies without the lights on.
What about body language? I remember speaking with a friend of mine who would cross his arms when he spoke publicly. He would ask the audience a question then cross his arms and wait for someone to answer. His body language said: “I triple-dog dare you to answer my question!” Well, of course no one would take the triple-dog dare! They were scared of the guy! What about eye-contact? This friend of mine had a natural frown on his face. He wasn’t ever really mad or angry about anything. In fact, I can’t even remember a time that I’ve ever seen him upset. But the look on his face says that if you answer his question it better be right or else. It says, “I’m angry with you and I don’t care if you answer the question or not because I’ve also crossed my arms and I’m thinking about just punching the lights out of you!” Of course, nothing like this would be in his mind. He was as gentle as a teddy bear. But the optics of body language is important.
The background in a television show or movie is important. Most people will focus on the characters that are speaking in each scene. They don’t look at everything in the background. It’s the background that really tells the story in my opinion because of everything that each piece of the scene symbolizes or points to. For instance, in the television show Seinfeld, there appears in every show the kitchen shelf that has at least 8-12 boxes of cereal. The reason is that Jerry Seinfeld in the show loves cereal. After all, he’s a bachelor and eats only a few types of food at home–namely, cereal. Also, his favorite superhero character is Superman. In every episode of Seinfeld you will see a picture of Superman or a figurine of Superman on his shelf. Why? Because it relates to the character that Seinfeld is portraying in the show. Background optics are important as well.
So the optics this week of President Trump and President Putin meeting in Helsinki, Finland was very interesting. President Putin shows up thirty minutes late for the initial meeting. Interestingly enough, President Trump shows up ten minutes later. It’s a power play on both men’s parts. Moreover, when they walked into a room where there were two chairs sitting there for a photo opportunity, with lack of trust in his eyes, Putin would look at Trump to see what he was doing while Trump confidently was letting Putin know that he was not at all concerned with his presence and was posturing himself as a person of strength. Putin looked somewhat nervous in the way that he sat and the way he was looking at Trump. Trump on the other hand looked as if he was quite comfortable.
Then came the optics of the news conference with both men. Both men were standing at their respective podiums. Both men gave long opening statements and both men admitted to problems between the United States and Russia. There are issues and they both know it. This time, Putin looked as relaxed as Trump did. There was no hiding with either one of them as far as we could tell on the outside. They said what they meant and both men were showing strength. This is optics. They were “showing” strength. With both the American and Russian flags behind them in even number, optically speaking, the American flag was first. It’s all about optics.
This is why I put hair products on my head everyday and comb my hair.