While Donald Trump makes rampant use of Twitter, Toronto-based communications consultant Roger Davies believes another aspect of the U.S. President's communications style is also favoured by millennials and others.
He's a right-brain communicator – extremely visual.
"An increasing number of executives communicate with the same style as President Trump. It's the wave of the future. So we need to understand it, and learn to work with it, especially if this style is not to your preference," he writes in a blog post on the McLuhan and Davies consultancy website.
The idea traces back to famed media guru Marshall McLuhan – father of Mr. Davies' co-founder of the firm, Eric McLuhan – who delineated both right- and left-brained communications styles. In practice, Mr. Davies highlights these essential visual communication factors:
- President Trump is extremely spontaneous. He tends to process information fast and make decisions fast – gut decisions, part of the emotional-intuitive right-brain approach.
- His communication strength, contrary to what you might think given his Twitter fusillades, focuses on the spoken rather than the written word. If something has to go into writing, summaries and bullet points are valued.
- He prefers short verbal summaries and prefers not to read long written reports.
- The skill of getting to the point will be especially valued by right-brain communicators. They will also get to the point quickly.
- The visual communicator, like President Trump, will manage and paint big pictures, expecting his support team to manage the details. That means it’s vital to surround yourself with a competent and qualified team, something the President has of course been criticized as failing to do.
- President Trump also processes most communication emotionally. “This surfaces in one of two ways. First, he will tend to react emotionally to a situation. Second, he is sensitive to ‘image’ issues. Image is all,” Mr. Davies notes. Everyone has to look good and feel good. Indeed, Mr. Davies says that while President Trump may verbally articulate a blunt negotiating position, he is well aware that his “opponent” has to end up also feeling good.
- His firm’s research shows that visual communicators respond well to words such as action, now, fast, change, new and opportunities.
- They also respond well to phrases such as: “What if…”; “Get to the point!”; “ What is your point?”; and “ Show me a bottom line.”
Visual communicators are impatient. Mr. Trump's style shows that. But remember, the people he communicates with who relish that style are equally impatient. Many of the people around you may share that impatience, in our frenetic era.
Mr. Davies quotes one of his research subjects on this approach: "You want an opinion fast? You'll receive one fast. No hanging around. No getting back to you later. No answering a question with another question. I know where I stand. I get an immediate opinion, an instant decision. None of this asking others for input."
It also involves a tendency to not look before you leap. "We just jump in, figuring that whatever happens we can fix later," one visual communicator said in their research .
So, if you want to link to those folks, get to the point. And don't bombard them with details. If you must put something in writing, keep it short, with plenty of summaries, bullet points and key data shown visually, for fast comprehension.
"Don't forget: It's a wonderful (right-brain) world. President Trump is merely a symptom of the present and the future. Like it or not," he concludes.
2. The two biggest mistakes job seekers make
Two of the biggest mistakes job seekers make stem from recent, popular bits of advice that many of us have embraced.
Ilana Gershon, an Indiana University professor of anthropology and author of Down and Out in the New Economy: How People Find (or Don't Find) Work Today, told Knowledge@Wharton that the first mistake is wasting their time on personal branding.
"People are putting in a lot of time in to making sure that their online presence reflects what they see as their authentic self, and on the hiring side, nobody seemed to care about personal branding," she said. And, of course, building a personal brand online takes a lot of time and effort.
The second mistake is to focus on so-called "weak links" to find work. That means instead of counting on the people closest to you for help in finding jobs, it's the unexpected person, a bit further removed, who will hear you need work and know of an opening you might fit. And that was true in the past. But she says these days the problem is not so much finding out about the job as getting the recruiters to notice you amidst the pile of resumes.
To understand personal branding, Prof. Gershon went to a lot of free personal-branding workshops for job seekers. They were told to figure out what three or four words reflect their authentic self and then make sure their online presence and offline interactions align with those critical words. It was stressed that these couldn't just be any words – they had to accurately reflect the person's true self.
That baffled her: "People are quite good at creating personas … a character that they will perform as in a workplace, or perform in a particular context. It doesn't necessarily have to be fundamentally true to who they are for it to be really effective."
Indeed, she's even dubious that companies should be fussing about consistency in future employees' personality since in the people in her life who are the same from context to context are the most unpleasant.
So keep her iconoclastic views in mind if you're job searching.
3. Leadership tips from mankind's best friend
Garry McDaniel, a professor of business at Franklin University in Ohio, says on The Great Leadership blog that for thousands of years, dogs have been humankind's constant companion, and so perhaps it makes sense to listen to what advice they might give us to serve as more effective leaders:
- Demonstrate loyalty – dogs, after all, are unfailingly loyal.
- Maintain a positive attitude – dogs are perhaps the most positive creatures on the planet.
- Communicate clearly and without guile – what you see with a dog is what you get.
- Be playful – our dogs love playing with us.
- Be forgiving – step on your dog’s tail and they will yelp but forgive you immediately.
- Love what you do – unconditional love is a celebrated feature of dogs.
- Live a balanced life – dogs transition easily between sleeping, playing, eating and engaging with others.
4. Quick hits
- The critical thinking skill nobody taught you is inversion, says blogger James Clear. What if the opposite was true? By studying that possibility, you can unlock precious information and ideas.
- Three immutable principles for coaching from veteran consultant Alan Weiss: (a) I can’t help anyone who doesn’t want to be helped and I don’t try. (b) I give you my best advice but whether you accept it and act on it is a commentary on you, not me. (c) If there are three options and I suggest the first but you prefer the second and I think it will work, I will help you. If you prefer a third that clearly won’t work, I won’t help you fail.
- Avoid dropdown boxes on your website when typing may be faster, advises the Nielsen Norman Group consultancy. An example is lists of countries or states, where it’s easier to type New York or Canada than search for them.
- Next time you unpack after a trip, audit your belongings, noting everything you didn’t need and regret packing. Create a “skip list” for next time with those items on top.
- In the United States, about 42 per cent of the population is over 50, but only 6 per cent of the ad industry falls in that age bracket, notes blogger Bob Hoffman. That’s why, he contends, Dos Equis’s ad agency fired “The Most Interesting Man in The World,” 78-year-old Jonathan Goldsmith, and replaced him with a 41-year-old version, with sales lagging since.
Supplementary lesson: In advertising it's easy to improve something to death.
Harvey Schachter is a Kingston, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online column, Power Points. E-mail Harvey Schachter.