This was all prelude to an unusual double-fisted handshake, in which Trump grasped Thiel’s palm with both hands. ”[Trump] not only grabs the palm of [Thiel’s] hand, he grabs the outside of his hand, and he pats it…he’s caressing it,” says Lillian Glass, a body language and communication expert based in Beverly Hills, California. “It shows that he really likes this guy.”

Powershake. (Getty Images/Drew Angerer)
Powershake. (Getty Images/Drew Angerer)

In video of the meeting, Thiel appears to crack an embarrassed smile at the handshake-caress. Vice-president-elect Mike Pence looks on frowning and smiling at the same time, a posture that Glass described as “uptight,” but “impressed.”

Trump’s body language in photos has consistently shown he has a talent for warming up others, says Glass. That’s a powerful negotiating tactic: “He’s a real bonder,” says Glass. “He does great male bonding, and that’s going to be great for a president, because I think you need to have a connection with other men you’re going to be working with. He’s not afraid to show affection.”

And that affection isn’t likely to come across as a weakness to others, either, she notes. “He’s the one taking charge of the affection. Usually the person taking charge of the affection is the one taking charge, by putting both hands over.”

Correction Dec. 15, 2016, 8AM EST: Glass is based in Beverly Hills, California, not Florida.

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