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Messy Desk Can Eventually Turn You Into A President
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A neuroscientist finds several troubling clues.

One of the most revealing things about a person is their workspace. Not only can a person’s office or desk reveal how they like to work, it can shed light on deep-seated psychological and personality traits, says Colin Ellard, an environmental psychologist and professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Waterloo, whose latest book, Places of the Heart, explores how our workspaces and other daily environments affect us and those around us.
"For many of us, other than the room where we sleep, our office is the place where we log more hours than anywhere else, so (it) can be very revealing," says Ellard. And it’s not just whether a person chooses to keep their desk neat or messy that reveals something about them.
"In part, what we’re trying to do is to establish dominance over our territory—to mark it as our own," says Ellard. "Territoriality has everything to do with interpersonal interaction. We’re personalizing, establishing dominance, as a way to send a signal to others. The signal may be meant to produce an emotional state in visitors (fear, awe, friendliness for example) or to convey a message of some kind."
In other words, Ellard says, we often use our office space as a way of telling some kind of story about ourselves. Or as he puts it, "The office can be a carefully crafted tableau."
As of last Friday, the most powerful and well-known office in the world—the Oval Office—has a new occupant: Donald Trump. While the Oval Office generally changes very little with each new president, Trump’s other office—the one he’s held for years on the 26th floor of the Trump Tower in New York reveals a much richer story about the most powerful man in the world.
"At first glance, one might suppose that this is the desk of a man who is busy with a lot of different projects—he’s a multitasker," says Ellard, who notes that despite having such a large desk only about 10% of its surface is actually visible, the rest of it buried under stacks of items. When I present him with photos of Trump’s business office that were first obtained by the Daily Mail. But on closer inspection, Ellard says, the sheer number of items on Trump’s desk tells a different story. "A remarkably large number of the items on his desk seem to be about Donald J. Trump. That is, it doesn’t look as though his desk is filled with materials related to ongoing projects so much as books, articles, and photographs about (himself)"
Ellard does concede there are plenty of items on Trump’s desk which he can’t easily identify, which might relate to his business interests, but "the top layer seems to contain a lot of Trumposity." Here are the most telling items in Trump’s office that strike him as revealing:

"I find it remarkable that the only photograph that we see on Trump’s desk, other than those of himself, is an image of his father," says Ellard. "Note that it’s just his father and it isn’t an intimate family photo, but a fairly stern looking professional portrait of the man in business attire."
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[Photo: Daniel Biskup via the Daily Mail]
While Trump has frequently talked about the influence of his father’s business acumen, a financially frugal man who was rather ruthless in building a property empire based around low-income housing, not a lot is known about the personal relationship between father and son.

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