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Donald Trump: “Beyond Coaching”

15 August 2016 2 Comments

UnknownIs the GOP standard-bearer a crisis communicator’s dream client or an impossible nightmare? If you’ve read the New York Times report, on why Donald Trump is unlikely to change his toxic verbal style despite widespread condemnation and sagging polls, it’s the latter. Well-placed campaign sources tell the Times that Trump is “beyond coaching.”

The assessment suggests that Trump is an outlier, a man whose character is so flawed that he can’t be rehabilitated. But does this mean that there are no teachable moments for CEOs and other leaders who don’t tweet or hurl insults 24/7 and whose bad conduct won’t reach cartoonish proportions? Not so fast!

Trump’s most disastrous character flaw is arrogance. That’s also the most common trait that has gotten countless successful people in trouble. In a famous interview, Henry Kissinger boasted to Oriana Fallaci that he always “acted alone.” His ego trip was universally panned while President Richard Nixon was reportedly “white-lipped” with rage over his advisor’s remarks.

Another secretary of state, Alexander Haig, fared even worse after he told members of the White House press corps that he was “in charge” following the shooting of President Reagan. He never lived down the moment, especially after the constitutional experts weighed in. And who in the crisis communication business can forget the C-suite, whine fest from BP’s CEO, Tony Hayward? He told a TV reporter that he’d like the whole oil-spill thing to be over so he could get his “life back.”

Most people in positions of power can successfully rid themselves of bad habits if they are humble enough to listen and learn. Lesson number one: Don’t confuse communicating with talking because you can draw an audience. Lesson number two: the bigger the job, the more criticism you’ll attract. If and when it becomes necessary to address an adversarial word or deed, be brief, factual, and specific. The goal is to blunt the criticism rather than expand the conflict. That brings us back to Donald Trump who refuses to see that controversies are made in media heaven.

Posted by Bodine Williams, author of Game Face, Mastering the Media Interview, 19 Cautionary Tales.


  • Panda said:

    Trump: America “is being ripped off by every single country in the world.” That simple statement, overlooked by most of the pundits in post-debate coverage, was the most illuminating comment during last night’s debate for me, a non-American. He has the deft touch of a sledgehammer, a third-grader’s understanding of foreign policy and has no business leading America or the country’s foreign affairs. He is a bellicose, self-obsessed scaremongerer who exhibits no self-control and apparently has no time for nuance or subtlety.
    I suspect much of the world, as I am, is looking on in disbelief that this election is even close.

  • bwilliams (author) said:

    Thank you for your comment. Mr. Trump says a lot of very colourful things. We can only wonder how much of what he says, he believes. Bodine