President Donald Trump sucks at handshakes. He usually grabs and pulls the person he is shaking hands with toward himself to assert his dominance. Then he holds on for dear life until the receiver of the Trump handshake is visibly uncomfortable. It has become sort of a trademark move that he has been honing since taking office. He uses it as a tool of aggression rather than a friendly gesture of peace and goodwill.
The handshake has been around since at least the 5th century BC and is thought to have originally started as a non-aggressive way to show an open palm.
The handshake is commonly done upon meeting, greeting, parting, offering congratulations, expressing gratitude, or completing an agreement. In sports or other competitive activities, it is also done as a sign of good sportsmanship. Its purpose is to convey trust, respect, balance, and equality. If it is done to form an agreement, the agreement is not official until the hands are parted.
Trump recently attended the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) conference, where they have their own kind of handshake. Rather than research a bit ahead of time, Trump just bumbled through the opening ceremony. When it came time to do the “traditional” ASEAN handshake, Trump blew it. He wasn’t the only one, but he was the most awkward about it.
In the traditional ASEAN handshake, “each leader extends their right arm over their left and shakes the opposite hands of those next to him.” The moment was made even more awkward by Trump’s monumental size in comparison with the two men that flanked him — Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on his right and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on his left. Being almost a foot taller than both men, Trump ended up doing a half-crouching, half-bending maneuver once he finally figured out what he was supposed to be doing.
As we pointed out, Trump wasn’t the only representative at the summit that struggled with the handshake. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ended up just extending his arms out to the men at his sides without crossing them. A little bit of research about the summit would have yielded previous examples of the ASEAN handshake and saved embarrassment. Maybe next time Putin will remember to include handshake instructions in their pre-conference brief?
Watch the awkward handshake below:
— ABC News (@ABC) November 13, 2017