Psychologists Explain What Is Going On When Trump Shakes Someone’s Hand

With all the craziness that has surrounded the political spectrum since Trump took office, certain aspects of the situation are bound to be ignored or largely forgotten because they don’t make the cut in terms of what is vital enough to discuss. One of those issues has actually started to become a bit more important than anyone ever realized it would be, and that is the issue of how Trump shakes hands with someone. Anyone who has witnessed Trump shake hands with someone in public knows exactly what is being referenced here. The president clearly doesn’t shake hands like one would expect a respected politician to do so, and many wonder why that is the case.

It became especially clear to the public that Trump’s strange signature way of almost attacking his counterpart when shaking hands would affect more than his simple interactions with world leaders when he met with the new French president, Emmanuel Macron. Macron was apparently briefed on Trump’s unique and overbearing handshake, and he essentially beat Trump to the punch. Of course, this didn’t stop Trump from attempting gain control over the action as he always does, so the result was a visibly awkward moment in which both presidents seemed determined to crush the other’s hand.

When observing Trump’s signature move, it becomes apparent why he does what he does. First, he seems to signal a handshake with an extended hand and warm half-smile, but when the handshake is given, he will forcibly yank that other person toward himself, which causes many unsuspecting victims to turn uncomfortably and forces them to right their balance instead of colliding with Trump. At this point, Trump will start to saw the arm back and forth instead of actually shaking it like a normal human. This not only looks strange, but it forces the other party into an even more uncomfortable position. To top it off, Trump then condescendingly places his free hand on top of the two shaking hands, essentially holding the shake for as long as he likes.

Since it is clear this act is purposeful, many have questioned the reason for it. Psychologists are starting to offer suggestions, and many of them agree that it basically comes down to Trump believing he should assert dominance over anyone he encounters. To someone like Trump, who clearly has an issue with reality, this sort of behavior makes him seem tough and in control, but to many on the outside, it looks like he is insecure in his position and feels he needs to reiterate it wherever possible.

Trump most likely learned this behavior from watching television, movies, or possibly by receiving some bad advice from a political or corporate consultant. Psychologists agree that while many businessmen see the handshake as a form of intimidation and a display of power, it actually has very little influence on how someone perceives someone else. In fact, many psychologists argue that the only good handshake is one meant to convey mutual respect. Any other handshake simply creates a sense in the ‘victim’ that the ‘assailant’ is out of touch with reality.

There is one other possible explanation for Trump’s behavior, but it implies that he is much less in touch with the common man than he claims to be. In the past, Trump has called hand-shaking a barbaric act that is a curse within civilized society. He is reportedly a horrible germaphobe, which would explain why he has such an unusual handshake technique. It is very possible that Trump isn’t used to the act since in the past he could simply refuse it if he wished. Now that he’s president, he can’t very well ignore the call for handshakes that must come many times per day. Perhaps the answer is simply that Trump has no idea how to properly shake someone’s hand.