Trump & Putin’s Handshake Body Language Was All About “Power,” Expert Says
On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in person for the first time at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.
The highly anticipated meeting began with a handshake, followed with Trump patting Putin on the back. The interaction instantly went viral, spawning a ton of memes on social media.
Trump himself seemed to be looking forward to the meeting with Russia's president.
Elite Daily spoke with two experts about their handshake and subsequent meeting for analysis.
Dr. Lillian Glass notes that Trump was initially not smiling, while Putin was "all smiles and leaning in." She says,
I am picking up that Trump is guarded (maybe from all of the Russian election speculation) and Putin shows happiness that he and Trump have finally met eye to eye.
Glass interprets Trump's body language as being tense and reserved -- possibly even punishing towards Putin, saying,
For a first meeting, Trump's guarded. He's watching everything, he's not welcoming him with open arms -- yet.
In general, Glass says, Trump thrives when meeting world leaders (minus the Merkel meeting and the handshake snub with Poland's First Lady).
She says, "You really see [Trump] warm up, he lights up around them, especially like [Shinzo] Abe, Justin Trudeau."
On the other hand, body language expert Susan Constantine had a different interpretation of what Trump's handshake was all about.
She says that unlike his usual sawing-wood handshake, often accompanied by a pat on top of the forearm, Trump went in to pat Putin on the underside of his forearm. She notes,
Trump's lending his hand out as a servant. Palms up is showing surrender, powerless. I think Trump is doing this purposely to let Putin know, I can put my ego aside to elevate yours.
But Trump wouldn't be demonstrating humility out of honest lower-than-thou feelings, she explains. He's trying to get the upper hand by playing the "humble salesman" role.
Both experts agreed that this was a power play between two strong leaders with strong egos. In this case, it's Trump playing Putin, Constantine says:
President Trump may very well be playing the Trump card by feeding Putins ego. We have two very egotistical and narcissistic power players. From a psychological point of view, the best negotiating tactic when dealing with a narcissist (Putin in this case) is to elevate his ego.
But that's not to say that Trump necessarily thinks he's better or worse than Putin. In fact, Constantine says,
There's no doubt that there's deep respect for each other. I think they see themselves in each other, they see the strength in the other. Trump doesn't look stressed… he seems comfortable. He really feels that he's with someone that he respects. I don't see fear or intimidation... I see a guy that actually likes Putin.
After the meeting was adjourned, Trump said that it went "very, very well" and that it was "an honor" to meet with Putin.
Constantine thinks the deep similarities between the two leaders might be a sign. She says,
Based on that photo, I believe that they will come to one power. The two are very like minded, they both have agendas, they both are power players, and they're united in that respect... I see two powerful men negotiating power and making decisions as one.
As for that prediction, we may need well beyond the G20 Summit to hash out what that would look like.