What's in a Handshake?

Trump Body LanguageBusiness Insider asked Dr. Lillian Glass, a self-described body language expert to analyze President Trump's body language. She says Trump's "robust" handshake with the prime minister of Japan communicates, "Hey, we get along. I really like you." She says the PM's body language communicates the same and says that Trump's "cupping" his hand (placing his hand over the prime minister's) also indicates affection.

But comedians The Young Turks criticize the exchange, including audio of the prime minister telling Trump, "Look at me" and, immediately after the handshake is finished, pulling his body away and looking like he wants to leave.

Dr. Glass says Trump's handshake with the British prime minister shows "he's very respectful" and that "he doesn't know her that well or, you know, that he doesn't have the same affection towards her as the others."

With Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, Glass says Trump and he had a warm handshake, and placing a hand on the arm "indicates friendship." A body language expert who analyzed this move by President Obama said it demonstrated power. Glass says Trump's body language with Obama shows tension.


  • If it's not obvious from this post, I'm skeptical about some of Glass interpretations. What do you think?
  • What about the context of these interactions could affect our interpretation? Consider that these are short clips, possibly edited, and are in front of the media.
  • What, if any, lessons from this can you glean for job interviews? How would you describe your own approach to shaking hands in a business situation?