Wherever he goes, or whoever visits him, Donald Trump’s handshake style makes headlines. Following the latest awkward incarnation while the US president was meeting his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, we have analysed five of his key handshake techniques.
The ‘to me, to you, to me’ tussle
Trump approaches a handshake like an arm wrestle. Clasp the hand, then pull sharply in, to leave the recipient off-balance. He has even used it while sitting down. Japanese prime minister Shinzō Abe was visibly bemused after being subjected to a 19-second Trump handshake that he was unable to pull away from. Justin Trudeau is one of the few to have effectively combatted it. The Canadian prime minister clutched the top of Trump’s right arm with his left hand to brace himself against the inevitable tug.
Macron and the dandruff
If he can’t intimidate with a rough handshake, pointing out an imperfection is another tactic the US president employs. With Macron – who has form in besting the Trump-shake – Trump brushed what he said was dandruff off the French leader’s shoulder, while telling photographers: “We have to make him perfect.” Macron maintained a dignified silence. Perhaps the dandruff incident is slightly preferable to a previous Trump-Macron encounter in Paris, when Trump spent more than 30 seconds with Macron in his grip (eventually wife Brigitte was pulled into the clutch, too).
The ‘No thank you, ma’am’
A Trump refusal to shake hands also speaks volumes. In one of the more excruciating diplomatic moments of his presidency, Trump simply refused to shake hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, even when invited to by photographers.
I wanna hold your hand
In contrast to his hands-off approach with Merkel, Trump was notoriously hands-on with Theresa May. Anxious to make a good impression as the British prime minister became the first foreign leader to visit the new president in the White House, he was photographed holding hands with her as they descended some steps. On Macron’s US trip this week, he once again repeated the hand-holding trick.
The pinkie dance
The one hand Trump seems to have a less firm grip with is the first lady’s. Video has repeatedly appeared to show Melania declining or being slow to grasp her husband’s hand in public. This week Trump developed a new move – the pinkie dance. He repeatedly twitched at Melania with his little finger to encourage her to hold his hand – much as you might when posing with a reluctant child embarrassed to be seen out with the family.
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