June 27, 2017 6:15 pm
Updated: June 27, 2017 9:13 pm

Has Donald Trump’s awkward handshake met its match?

It's not just Donald Trump's words and actions that are being scrutinized-- his awkward handshakes have repeatedly gone viral. Ines de La Cuetara reports on what the U.S. President's body language says about him.


When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday, he briefly shook his hand—then went right in for his signature bear hug, surprising the Trump with what seemed to be a pre-emptive embrace… and a brand new way to dodge one of Trump’s notoriously aggressive handshakes.

Story continues below

Trump’s handshakes have repeatedly become the story, and it’s left world leaders bracing themselves to make sure they stand their ground when faced with Trump.

“His handshake and his approach is a tool that he uses to dominate, to influence, to get in the mindset of someone else, and put himself in a position to be seen as the power player, said body language Chris Ulrich.

READ MORE: Emmanuel Macron says Donald Trump handshake ‘wasn’t innocent’

Trump’s handshakes usually start off with what body language experts call a “beggar’s pose.”

“You see a lot of people in business do this, to almost give power to the other person,” said Ulrich.

From there, Trump’s strategy is to yank and pull, before eventually engaging into a tug of war with his partner. Both his Supreme Court pick Judge Neil Gorsuch and Vice-President Pence have been “shaken.”

In this combo photo, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seen hugging various heads of state and VIPs. U.S. President Donald Trump should have been ready for a bear hug from Narendra Modi this week in Washington. The folksy embrace has become a signature move for the Indian prime minister in greeting global leaders and celebrities alike.

(AP Photo, File)

WATCH: U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed India Prime Minister Narendra Modi share an awkward embrace. 

Trump also typically likes to seal his handshakes with a small pat or a grip of the arm. He gave UK Prime Minister Theresa May an affectionate tap on the hand when it was her turn to visit the White House.

“The last person to touch is often seen as the power player. It’s an invasive touch, it’s a power move that you can use,” said Ulrich.

When newly-elected French president Emmanuel Macron met with Trump, the two leaders shared a white-knuckled grip and seemed to clench their jaws. Macron later acknowledged his bone-crushing grasp “wasn’t innocent” and that he meant to show Trump he won’t be making concessions.

READ MORE: How to give a proper handshake, according to experts, Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who knows a thing or two about awkward handshakes came ready for his first meeting with Trump, keeping the U.S. president at arm’s length and giving Trump’s hand some serious “side-eye” before engaging. Ulrich said Trudeau was establishing equality in the handshake.

When Trump met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he seemed to decline her offer to shake hands. At the time, the move was seen as a diss—but she may have just got off lucky.

WATCH: Merkel, Trump meet in awkward face-to-face meeting

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Report an error


Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.