Body Language read for The Independent of President Donald Trump’s most recent handshake with Brigitte Macron (the French Prime Ministers wife) in this video

President Donald Trump’s most recent handshake with Brigitte Macron (the French Prime Ministers wife) in this video

Here are my rough notes. The link to the story will go up later. You may want to get my book Snap Making the Most of First Impressions Body Language and Charisma and reference the chapter on handshakes!

If you look at both videos of his handshake with her in the link you see it more clearly. Interesting that at the G20 summit and since then he has often been the initiator of handshake, where before he made others go to him, to maintain his power as in the ritual of leaders that says I powerful ,”You must come to me.” He actually takes a large step with one foot towards her then takes another as he stretches our his arm to her. Again this is different he is initiating and goes to her, releasing some of his power. But, then notice that when she steps forward to give him the traditional french cheek kisses how he grabbed her tightly on the upper arms, so tightly she is freezes for a moment in stress her feet together and her shoulders flex back in a fear response. She recovers and gives tilts her head to talk to him as a way of supplication to his power, but she tries to hold his hands to hold him slightly away from her he not only doesn’t step back so they are at a more comfortable social distance, (outside of 14 inch intimate space) by extending his arms, he keeps his elbows bend holds on to her hands awkwardly gripping them to extend the greeting, which is a bid for power and control over her. He then continues the awkward grip of her handshaking hand and jerks bizarrely upward several times, not letting go as if he is reprimanding a small child to obey him. Its very unusual. See how she steps back quickly to retreat from this control. I have conducted research on handshakes, both survey and observational research for many years and have not seen this rough grab and tug upward in an adult to adult greeting. As she tries to turn away and get away he continues holding on with his controlling grab and jerk up still holding her right hand and takes his other hands with a pat on her back that pulls her back and controls her from both sides to control her further and bring her close again and extend the greeting. By noting the timing of this pat, its placement and his facial expression and her response of her tensing and pulling away that it is intended and received as control movement. You might say, “Oh he was just giving her a friendly pat, that is an endearing warm or comforting pat, but clearly that was not the intent or the interpretation.

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