I see a lot of my friends and family scared with Trump in the Oval Office. Within a year, he went from a clown that many dismissed to the President of the United States. Among my friends, I see suffering and confusion. I hear their stories of protest and anger, fear and sadness.
There are plenty of possible explanations why Hilary Clinton lost. Comey’s email investigation. Hillary’s perceived interest in Wall Street over Main Street. A general dislike of her by a good portion of the country before her candidacy even started. If we’re being honest, she wasn’t the strongest candidate the Democratic Party has nominated.
The best explanation I’ve read of why Trump won, on the other hand, is his incredible powers of persuasion. Cartoonist and entrepreneur Scott Adams (Dilbert) initially started discussing Trump’s power of persuasion in 2015. As a reader of Scott’s blog, I was interested to learn more. And learn I did. Scott’s posts have led to this site, where I learn and share information about Persuasion. Please join us!
I want to reassure my liberal friends that, with Trump in power, everything will be mostly alright. We’re still headed for 4 years under a semi-Republican president, with a Republican Congress and a Supreme Court pick looming. I can understand the concerns there, and the anger that Obama’s SC nominee wasn’t given any hearings.
Remember, however, that the Republican party didn’t line up behind Trump. He’s not their standard-bearer. He’s not prone to fall in line with their plans. He’ll have battles there as well.
And Trump isn’t Hitler, as much as the media will have you believe. Let me unmask a little reality as I see it, as best I can. Please bear with me. Tweet This
I urge you to understand Trump’s techniques
Trump’s playbook, which we’ve seen again and again, has some core moves to it:
- Think big when setting an opening anchor for the coming negotiation
- Keep your options open as long as possible
- Keep your word to your business partners
- Keep your opponent off-balance
- Hit back with over-the-top aggression
- Befriend an enemy once you’ve won
Trump wrote about these ideas and more in his 1987 book, The Art of the Deal, available to anyone who wants to learn more. We’ll review it here on PRL in the near future.
In addition to Trump’s playbook, standard persuasion techniques include:
- Visual imagery and language
- The use of Identity to divide groups or unite groups
- Simple language patterns
- Pacing and Leading
What we’re seeing with Trump’s candidacy, election, and first few weeks in office matches his playbook and these standard techniques.
The Republican party was in disarray leading to this election. Trump, an experienced business man with an outsized personality and entertainment experience, was able to stage a hostile takeover of the party as if it were a business. And he did it on national TV.
Trump destroyed one Republican candidate after another until he was the only one standing. His visual messages included Little Marco and animated stories about Ben Carson attacking his teachers with a knife. He discussed his big, beautiful wall in visual terms. And he did all of this with simple language that people can understand.
And after defeating his opponents Ben Carson and Chris Christie, Trump befriended these opponents enough to support to his campaign.
Trump’s ability to Pace and Lead deserves special attention. Pacing means you match your persuasion target’s emotions and beliefs. Gain their trust that you’re just like them. Once they support you, people will follow you to new lines of thinking. They already trust you, and most people will double down before publicly changing their support (known as entrenchment). Trump is a master at this, and his pacing of the crowds was visibly evident in his campaign rallies.
It doesn’t help that the media let us down. They didn’t cover Trump’s pre-election rallies well. Instead of investigating what this candidate was saying to reach his supporters, we were assured that Hillary had a lock on winning. Every week was an explosive headline about Trump’s inability to win. In response, Trump hit back at the media, like we see in his playbook.
Trump’s campaign message was about the Identity of Americans and being Great. It spoke directly to our selfish desires and out common identity. Hillary’s slogan, by contrast, was only about herself.
Anti-Trump people had been paced to believe Trump could never win. And to ensure that was the case, they were led to believe Trump was the next Hitler.
Now that Trump has won, people are in shock, also known as cognitive dissonance. The narrative that they’ve been living doesn’t match with reality. Either Hitler’s in power, or these people are wrong. As you know, people will frequently double-down on a public position in light of new evidence. It doesn’t matter what Trump has said. To many liberals, Trump’s promises to represent all Americans ring hollow; the promises to create jobs aren’t real, or aren’t jobs for everyone.
To too many liberal people, this new Hitler must be stopped. It’s unfortunate that the new information isn’t able to shake their fear, but fear is strong.
Trump, on the other hand, has had a very busy first few weeks. Like any new executive in a business, he’s making high-visibility changes that signal there’s a new boss in town. The effectiveness of those actions are less important than the fact that he’s doing something now that he’s in power.
Trump’s making a lot of changes all at once, requiring his opponents to spread their outrage over multiple topics. This keeps opponents off-balance and it will get exhausting.
He’s hiring business people that he trusts to understand how to run this very large business called the United States. We might not like his picks. And as the new boss, he’s letting go the people that don’t support his agenda. This is his Drain the Swamp promise that helped get him elected.
Trump’s met with business owners and labor leaders to work towards building better businesses in the United States. He’s using the Identity of the United States to bring negotiators to the table, under his campaign promise to Make America Great Again.
In fact, Trump’s started keeping many campaign promises right away. That’s a rarity in politics and something to consider.
His recent, contentious change to the immigration policy was hinted at during his campaign. Trump promised tighter immigration rules and his Extreme Vetting of immigrants, whatever that is. He suggested that he wouldn’t announce our security or military plans. So he made the promised change, without announcing it ahead of time. Among all the outrage was the minor news that this affected around 100 travelers over that first weekend.
Following Trump’s playbook to keep options open, this current immigration action only lasts 90 to 120 days. People and companies are protesting these recent actions, pushing the possibility that the end immigration reform will be closer to the middle of the political spectrum. In the mean time, he’s set an anchor to what he’d like the process to look like once this is debated into a new law.
All this to say, dear reader, that Trump may seem dangerous or unstable, but it’s also possible that there is more to the technique than you may realize. I urge you to understand Trump’s techniques. Use your new knowledge to temper your fear. Understand thine enemy.
I think the Republican Party has dishonored the Office of the President for the last 8 years of obstructionism. I don’t believe that’s the path forward. We cannot become what we hated most in our opponents.
I don’t support all of Trump’s policies (nor anyone else’s), but I do support the Office of the President of the United States. We know Trump can make things happen with the support of the Republican Party, but they’re not 100% behind him.
The best way to influence the future is to work with Trump and the Republican Party to build a better nation together. He said he’s working for all Americans, and I’m willing to give him that chance, even if he has a different approach than what I’d prefer.
Thank you for reading. This wasn’t an easy post to publish, but I felt it must be said. I look forward to any comments and criticisms in the comments below.
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