A "nest of doves" or a "lion's den"? With the latest EU Council meeting now over, IBTimes UK asked body language expert Judi James to investigate what Theresa May thought of her fellow European leaders and, more importantly, what the top politicians made of May as the Conservative premier made her EU summit debut.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker kisses Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker kisses Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May as Italy's Matteo Renzi, Greece's Alexis Tsipras and Ireland's Enda Kenny look on Reuters

"I love the way May proffers her cheek to Juncker along with a suppressed, knowing grin and eye contact as he is forced to pucker up and lean up like a small kid being forced to kiss mummy at the school gates. May has clearly mastered the art of looking open and amiable while subtly diminishing her victim's status at the same time.

"She's helped here by the lurking Alexis Tsipras whose wide grin is aimed at Juncker as though he finds the EC president's dilemma totally rib-tickling. It does look suspiciously like the kind of smile you'd use when another kid is naughtier than you are in class.

"Italy's Matteo Renzi was clearly the school prefect and despite his fixed smile he clearly finds it easier to look away than get directly involved, unlike Enda Kenny who prefers a spot in the wings as he sports a way more sinister-looking grin and glance combo that might imply a spot of strategic (or even Machiavellian) thinking."

French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister Theresa May
French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister Theresa May Reuters

"This proximity of heads as May and Hollande chat suggests an intimate and exclusive style of communication rather than the normal formal small talk.

"May's grimace is a signature look that she often uses primarily for comic potential. During her speeches and debates she twists her mouth in this way to announce a joke is coming so this looks like a confident way to share a laugh with the French leader."

 Theresa May (L) laughs with Ireland's Prime minister Enda Kenny
Theresa May (L) laughs with Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny Reuters

"It's Kenny who gets favoured with some spectacularly intimate tie-signs here as this hand-squeeze and shared laughter is well off the spectrum of normal greeting rituals, implying the pair know one another well enough to relax and go off-piste in terms of formality.

"May is leaning into this pose, lowering her head as though feeling no need to up her status and Kenny's eye-gaze suggests he enjoys making her laugh."

Theresa May stands with Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
Theresa May stands with Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Reuters

"My feminist sensibilities ban me from analysing May's fashion statements but I do feel the red shoes have psychological significance and merit mention, as I would mention it if Juncker pitched up in a pair of jaunty red lace-ups.

"May's shoes tend to serve the same purpose as the Emoji, ie a silent shorthand or intentional gesture to reveal her mood and approach to the problems de jour.

"Red shoes can cause cognitive confusion as – like her leopardskin courts – there is something innately saucy and vampish about them, however as well as being the colour of passion and love, red is also the colour of anger and aggression, so a good choice if you want to befuddle the opposition.

"Confidence starts with the feet, not just in the way they are shod but in the way they greet the ground, too.

"May's feet are adopting the power pose here, being slightly splayed and with the weight evenly balanced on both feet. Add that to the red shoes and you have clear signals of emphatic confidence and stoicism under pressure."