President Donald Trump’s famous handshakes became the center of diplomacy last week as Trump was abroad meeting world leaders.
Trump’s handshake has startled world leaders and commentators alike, with everybody wondering why exactly the President shakes hands in such a weird and awkward fashion.
A University of Illinois psychology professor was equally perplexed. Florin Dolcos has examined the handshakes and has given his analysis to the Huffington Post:
“It goes down to asserting dominance.
Why he wants to do that? I don’t know. It looks, to me, like he is trying too hard.
It looks ridiculous.”
Trying too hard indeed.
Trump was filmed greeting Emmanuel Macron, the new French President on his trip abroad. A hand “shake” would be an understatement as these two men held each other’s fists in a vice-like grip, their faces visibly strained.
Macron later admitted the handshake “wasn’t innocent” but instead a test of mettle between the two leaders.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 28, 2017
But Trump didn’t manage to “dominate” the French President. In fact, Macron managed to assert dominance over the U.S. President with a very public snub later in the day. Macron was walking towards a group of leaders and greeted three of them (including German Chancellor Angela Merkel) before finally sticking out his hand for Trump.
He can even be seen consciously swerving away from Trump to greet Merkel. You can be sure that that pissed Trump off in a big way.
As you can see in the video below, Trump is clearly annoyed and tries his hardest to make that handshake as weird and violent as possible. Macron, to his credit, kept his cool.
Frank Bernieri, an associate professor at Oregon State University’s psychology department, also sheds some light on what Trump is thinking when he sticks his hand out:
“It’s an intimidation tactic. There are self-preservation strategies and intimidation is one of the main ones. [Trump’s use of such tactics] are perfectly consistent with Trump.
He pretty much says that’s what I do to make a deal.”
Unfortunately for Trump, international diplomacy is a tad more complicated than a strong handshake.
But Trump wouldn’t know anything about that.
It’s quite fitting that Trump thinks he’s dominating people with his weird and awkward handshake. There is some truth to his reasoning, first impressions always count and a strong handshake is a must when meeting new people, especially in business.
But Trump’s weird jerking motion, pulling his opponent into him while violently shaking their hand isn’t imposing. It’s weird, and he overdoes it massively.