Trump's Body Language, Hugging and Hugs Denied and the Meaning of the Man Hug

When does a hug become performative, or a power play? (i.e. the Comey handshake) There is a man hug ( see excerpt from my book SNAP Making the Most of First Impressions Body Language and Charisma below. That is a sign of affection. This is not a man hug. Trump patted him ever so briefly broke the handshake (the man hug extends it and the hand on the back or shoulder brings the person in close and it lingers) and whispered to him so Comey had to bend down to Trump. Trump broke the handshake with the pat making the he pat was an power play, a top down admonishment.

- Why would Trump go in for an unwanted hug even when the spotlight's not on him? Some huggers where raised to be huggers based on their culture and or their family. Some huggers are expression their personality by always hugging.  Some  people who are huggers don’t feel connected or that they have fully expressed themselves  until they hug. Their hug is part of their identity, and may even create for them a unique moment or marker in their interactions.  I study and teach body language and personality assessment. The extroverted huggers in my audiences over the years say, “I am a hugger!” “If someone doesn’t want to hug, I make them!” I think it may feel like a win to some huggers, while others feel like they are able to give their affection in hug and set the tone. Some report, she didn’t want that hug, but then she gave in!” It’s a very interesting mixture of power and warmth. Remember Trump refused to shake hands for years. Look at the old news stories on his anti handshake days. Back then he gained power by not shaking hands as a handshake is an agreement to start the interaction unarmed.

What's the meaning of a hug denied, from the rejected hugger's point of view? Thinking of the instance at NATO when Macron seems to deny Trump's open arms. This instance is interesting for several reasons. As you watch Macron is seen walking on the far left towards Trump, then he veers over to shake hands with her. Some have shared that it was women first etiquette, but he veered so far left it looks like purposeful game of “fake you out!”, meant to unsettle Trump the way he tried to unsettle Macron with that, “I am not letting go” handshake on Macron’s visit to the us.  It’s a snub and we see a mircrofacial cue of anger by Trump in response, his lips press together and his eyes narrow tightly and his check and chin muscles tighten

- In your opinion, do you think these hugs are purely about power, or might he genuinely crave physical connection.   It varies, from person to person and it can also serve both functions for some people. 

.” I first noticed the man hug being exchanged by the male athletes in my communication classes at Auburn University. The young men would see a fellow athlete in the hallway or on the campus green and want to give a hug of warmth and friendship, but they were out in public view. People were watching. So they would give a combination handshake-hug. In the handshake-hug, the men first stick out one hand for a handshake and then, with their right hands locked in the handshake (to keep the two participants from getting too close), each wraps his left arm around the other’s shoulder and hugs. The two men hug with only their upper bodies touching and their lower torsos held out and away. Finally, to insure that no one can misconstrue this partial hug as a sissy move, each takes the hand that he briefly held against the other’s back and pounds hard three or four times.
In fact, you could tell if the men were close buddies. They would strike each other harder, just to show how much they cared! Men showing affection through hitting says, “I love you, guy, but not that way.” Unlike the traditional hug, which symbolically and effectively brings people into the intimate zone of space, removes barriers, and unites the two persons embracing, this pounding hug brings only the upper torso into intimate proximity of less than 14 inches. The two extended right arms block any symbolic joining of the two bodies. The aggressive act of striking the back insures that each man knows the other is still a testosterone-rich, card-carrying member of the “man club.”
The man hug, or pound hug, is exclusively performed between two males. It also goes by other names, including pound shake, dude hug, shug, or the bro hug. It’s a greeting or parting ritual that demonstrates a certain level of intimacy typically reserved for close friends and family.
While the different names for the man hug have entered the lexicon, the meaning of the hug has expanded to cover other things as well. Men can now “hug it out” in other circumstances. First heard by the masses in an episode of Friends on TV, the phrase hug it out means that one person gives another (usually a male) a pound hug to help the man get through a difficult or sad situation. Instead of being a spontaneous show of affection, this hug is preceded by a request for permission before it is given. So the exchange sounds something like this:
Person 1: “Man, my girlfriend just dumped me.”
Person 2: “Do you wanna hug it out?”
In an episode of Entourage, two of the guys were in a screaming argument on an elevator. Once the doors opened and they were in public view, one guy turned to the other and said, “Wanna hug it out?” In this use, the pound hug, preceded by the phrase “Wanna hug it out” means: “Hey, we were arguing, but now that we are in public, let’s show we are friends for now. Then we can continue this later in private.” The phrase “Lets hug it out, @#$#,” means “Let’s be friends again” after an argument, or when one man feels he has insulted another.

Patti Wood, MA - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at