A 25-second handshake between President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron that eventually included both their wives grabbed plenty of attention Friday.
CNN’s “New Day” brought in a body-language expert and an expert on etiquette to break down what happened.
“Keep in mind, when Trump meets a world leader, he’s already taking up real estate in their brains. Literally, they have to almost prepare and be ready for him. They never know exactly what’s going to come,” body language authority Chris Ulrich told anchors Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
“We see that with Macron. He steps into it and he starts grabbing the President’s hand and pulling it in, patting him on the back for both dominance and support.”
When Ulrich pointed out that Trump accepted the gesture with such force that he nearly pulled Macron “off his feet,” Camerota laughed and replayed the video.
Etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore said the handshake was all about dynamics, saying, “They’re both in a power play. You can see that there are a lot of hands involved in this handshake.”
Regarding the moment Trump seemingly knocked Macron slightly off-balance, Whitmore said that the he was acting “authoritative.”
“When you watch the video, Trump also puts his hands on Macron’s wife’s shoulders. When see you someone put their hands on a person’s shoulders that close to a person’s face, it’s a sign of intimacy and you only do that with someone you know extremely well,” Whitmore said.
Ulrich said first lady Melania Trump seemed momentarily left out.
“That handshake between the three of them — with Brigitte and President Macron — leaves Melania Trump on the outside. They’re all gripping hands and finally they embrace her toward the end here.”
He said that created a “visual perception” of an “awkward” moment when the first lady was an “outsider.”