Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Hand Shake of Donald Trump

There is a variety of handshakes with equally various meanings. Some express good feelings while others express ill feelings. From the firm business handshake to sweaty hands barely touching, you'd be surprised how your handshake can influence how others perceive you and how it can influence the manner you perceive others.

A friend of mine suggested me to watch The Apprentice in spite of my aversion for television. I was thrilled because Donald Trump is an interesting character to watch, that is, as far as non-verbal communication goes. His body movements are mostly purposeful or theatrical where the only clues of what and how he really feels are subtle. I would not be surprised to learn that he would have a non-verbal behaviour specialist of some kind to advice him.

This first video shows Donald Trump shaking hands in a particular manner that is ideal to create a bond with a newly met or known person. The bond is on the form of instant likability or trust. He first leans forward the person while presenting his hand; this shows interest in the person he is meeting with. He turns the person's hand on top of his while shaking hands to show immediate deference; this is a respectful and submissive gesture. Then he pulls the hand toward himself and his belly allowing the other person to enter his personal space to engender trust; it is because you trust a person that you let him or her to be in your personal space. One could summarize that in “Trust brings trust.”

The second video reveals who Donald Trump really is. Most people will have missed the subtle clues in the previous video but it's more obvious in this one. Donald Trump is aggressive and possibly a master manipulator. This video shows Donald Trump trying to forcefully pull the hand in his personal space, against the will of Bill Rancic, who is actually trying to pull Trump's hand toward himself. Let's just say that you don't want to mess with Donald Trump...

While Donald Trump is certainly no angel, there are things that cannot be done in business in order to be successful and he knows that. He said: "Once you make a deal with someone, it's really important to carry it through. You start developing the wrong reputation, it makes it impossible to make future deals. Once you shake hands, that should be it."


  1. It´s strange... If his intention is to engender trust, why does he force Bill Rancic into his personal space? He must have known, that it causes exactly the opposite effect.

  2. Forcing someone in one's own personal space will not result in distrust but instead discomfort or uneasiness. This approach will engender trust in most people because of its automatic response and the fact that they will eventually ignore their discomfort.

    Forcing oneself in another's personal space will be perceived as an aggression, which may cause distrust.

    To be in one of the situations, whether it is willingly or not, is enough to trigger its corresponding automatic response.


  3. I don´t think a person will ignore his/her impression. Especially if they feel discomfort. It´s a "red flag" telling them that something is wrong.

    Maybe it will not result in distrust, but it would make me alert, at least.

  4. You are right because it is indeed a red flag. As you so well wrote, one red flag is enough to be alert but not enough to make a conclusion.

    Imagine. You are a contestant on a TV show to win a $250,000 one-year contract with Donald Trump and it is the final challenge. You admire Donald Trump and you know it's the opportunity of your life. It's you against the last remaining contestant. You are very busy, excited, exhausted, understaffed and you get way too many things to think about and to do to win this challenge. Then you shake hands with Donald Trump for 3 seconds in a nearly 3 months series of challenges. How confident are you that you would detect this single 3 seconds event?

    The situation is perfect to make most people ignore the 3 seconds discomfort all along. They may even feel lucky to have hank shook with Donald Trump. Psychology at work.