President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participated in their first 2020 presidential campaign debate last week. In this episode, Bill Stierle and Tom discuss the debate that’s been dubbed as the most painful to watch in the history of presidential debates, owing mostly to the format and structure – or the lack thereof! – as both candidates, for the most part, ignored the rules and incessantly interrupted each other. Stay tuned to this episode as Bill and Tom dissect the Trump versus Biden debate, and give some lessons in communication that both could have benefited from.
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Lessons In Communication: Trump Versus Biden
Bill, the elephant in the room is the first presidential debate, which took place. I’ve got to tell you, that was hard to watch, wasn’t it? There are obviously many things we can talk about and we will talk about were there any parts of the debate that achieved anything that either candidate wanted to? The big issue that continues to be talked about is the format of the debate, how President Donald Trump, certainly, for the most part, ignored the rules and was incessantly interrupting Joe Biden. Joe Biden did interrupt him a little bit as well, but I think it was from a defensive place trying to get a word in edgewise. I’m curious, Bill, in that situation, if you were Joe Biden, is there anything you could have done to get Donald Trump to stop interrupting so much and to accomplish something? I’m curious what that would have been.
These are some of the most unsettling moments that I experienced as a communications expert and specialist is that they don’t have the right people on their team. That’s the thing that’s unsettling to me. I would figure that they would do a better job at what to say at the worst things that he could say back to him. Tom, when I go into a high conflict mediation, the first thing I do before I go in is I make a list of what are the worst things that people could say in the room and then what am I going to respond back to that? Regrettably, they might’ve had that discussion. What are the things that Donald Trump is going to say and what do you say back to that? What they don’t have is how to get in front of it. They are approaching it from the place of explanation and problem-solving that doesn’t work in a conflict situation. He is a high conflict individual.
He develops, causes and activates conflict. Conflict is a limbic brain kind of thing. It activates the fight, flight and freeze. He’s stirring the pot in order to create the stir that’s needed. Each one of his professional escalations has all about creating relevance and revenue. He creates relevance and revenue for himself. The way he does it is through conflict. If The Apprentice is done, his ratings are getting low and his golf courses are moving down regarding revenue, he needs to bring his professional status up. He’s going to take any opportunity to do that. You can literally track that with how he used media during the presidential campaign in 2016 to promote his golf course. You can watch, he’s promoting a golf course. He promotes his appearance of this. Let’s get back to the question you asked me. What can Joe Biden say or do to get him to be quiet?
I’m curious. I’m ready. I want to know it.
I want the readers to be ready too, that’s called creating a pause in order to create listening. That’s an important technique that Joe Biden could use and go like, “Let me think about that for a moment. Are you going for fairness right now? Would you like to talk about fairness for a second?” Donald Trump has to say yes to that. “President Donald Trump, are you talking about acknowledgment right now? You would like some acknowledgment for what you did?” Donald Trump has to say yes.
“President Donald Trump, you’d like some recognition for the job that you did. Is that what you’d like?” “Yes.” “You would like recognition to focus on that you shut the country down the way you did. Would you like recognition for that?” “Yes.” You’re trying to take his talking points away from him. Joe Biden is trying to prove that his talking points aren’t valid instead of taking his talking points away from him. That’s what Joe Biden could have done differently. Take the talking points away from President Donald Trump. In mediation, it’s agreeing with the thought that the person says versus proving the thought that they have is true or not. Stop pursuing truth.
There was no truth to be had there.
That’s why you stop pursuing truth and then he not only wins the debate, but he looks like the only sane person on the stage, which he is, but that’s not what’s important. It’s to prove that he’s the only sane person on stage. In my judgmental voice that I did call a sane person on the stage, I also want to have compassion and empathy for Donald Trump’s strategy in which he uses, which is a distraction so he doesn’t have to talk about difficult things. You don’t want to talk about difficult things. He doesn’t want to talk about the loss of life of Joe Biden’s son, being someone that’s sacrificed his life for America. He wants to talk about the struggles that his other son Hunter Biden had about drugs.
Which he did, in a question that had nothing to do with Hunter Biden. It was about Beau Biden. Donald Trump immediately said, “I didn’t know about, but I know Hunter Biden.”
All you’re doing is activating the limbic brain of your followers. It’s like, “You’re using Beau Biden as a distraction.” It’s like, “No, I’m not.” With some coaching, the thing Joe Biden could say to him is like, “You would like us to focus on Hunter Biden rather than focusing on the sadness of the loss that we have as Americans of the soldiers. You don’t want to talk about soldier loss. You would love to rather talk about how my son Hunter Biden was successful in overcoming his drug use. Let’s talk about how Hunter Biden was successful at that.” Most Americans who are struggling with addiction right now could learn from Hunter Biden’s experience about how to overcome drug abuse. “You’d like to talk about how Americans are struggling about drug abuse?” What he could do is shift the conversation to Hunter Biden did pretty good about his drug abuse. That’s another part of our economy that we need to deal with, don’t we? In other words, he’s looking like the person that is paying attention to the listeners like, “You’d like to talk about Hunter Biden. I’ll talk about Hunter Biden. Here’s how Hunter Biden was successful.”
I get what you’re saying, Bill, on that. That sounds good. Don’t you think that Donald Trump is not going to say yes to those things and then wait for Joe Biden to then say the next thing? He’s going to say yes and then immediately go off on some other tirade related to the subject.Sympathy is putting yourself in someone else's shoes. An empathetic moment is connecting to the need that was lost inside. Click To Tweet
I’m not worried about that. I’ll pretend I’m Donald Trump and watch what happens. “Yes, Hunter Biden had drug problems. Thank you for noticing that. Many Americans have drug problems and he was successful at that.” Let me do both ends. Donald Trump says the sentence, “He got $3 million from the Russians.” “You are trying to promote a story that you heard from social media and many of us know that social media stories aren’t fully true. You’re trying to promote that story?” “Yes.” “Would you be willing to check the facts on that? It doesn’t look like that’s true, but it sounds like you’re promoting another social media false story.”
Don’t you think Donald Trump would say, “Joe Biden, everybody knows it?” That’s what Donald Trump says. “Everybody knows it.”
“You would like social media and what people report on all of social media to be true. We know that we’re having trouble on truth and social media. Isn’t that right?” “Yes.” “This is a discussion about social media and the inaccuracy of facts. Is that what you’d like to talk about?” Using Donald Trump’s stream of consciousness is where Joe Biden will win next time. Not fighting his stream of consciousness but using his stream of consciousness.
I hear you, Bill, and I agree. Using a stream of consciousness if Joe Biden were skilled at empathy and going with those streams of consciousness.
You’ve got to be compassionate to that. You can’t fight it.
I think Joe Biden is compassionate and patient. I don’t think he has the skill. He doesn’t have the awareness of what that would do to go with it.
It’s hard for him to not have awareness about that.
The other thing is that they’re not supposed to address each other and ask each other questions. The moderator is supposed to ask questions that each of them was supposed to answer. One is supposed to be quiet while the other answers.
Let me see if I got this belief structure right. You have the belief that there’s going to be some organization that is going to set up a set of rules. You have a belief that Donald Trump is going to listen to those rules and then agree to those rules. Most certainly, you have a belief that he’s going to follow those rules. I feel doubtful and skeptical that he’s going to follow any formatting that they’re going to come up, even cutting his mic off or even doing these strategies. That’s not where Joe Biden needs to go. He cannot look to outside people to help him in debating this from the structural rules because Donald Trump is about languaging rule-breaking in order to gain respect, recognition and acknowledgment. He’s going like, “This is my opinion. This is what’s right because it’s my opinion.” Donald Trump has been such a successful person in getting people to pay attention to him and raising his brand identity to a position called respect. There are people throughout this nation that says, “I’m with him because he speaks up and he is speaking up for the voiceless person like me.”
Is there no way that Joe Biden could parent Donald Trump in that situation and get him to acknowledge what the rules are and that he, for the good of the nation, should adhere to the rules? Is that a complete waste of time?
It’s a complete waste of time to get them to adhere to the rules, but he can parent him through empathy. Joe Biden is a sympathetic person but not an empathetic person. He is empathetic about maybe 20% or 30% of the time. At his core, he thinks he’s empathetic about 70% of the time, but it’s more sympathetic than empathetic. We’ve done two different episodes on the difference between empathy and sympathy. The language of sympathy is different than the language of empathy. Most of the time people talk about empathy, but they’re talking about sympathy. Sympathy might sound like putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. That’s a sympathetic moment. That’s not an empathetic moment. An empathetic moment is connecting to the need that was lost inside the other person. Where Joe Biden wins in the landslide is his ability to move his language away from sympathy and into empathy in a more stronger way. When Donald Trump interrupts him, he needs to turn to Donald Trump and be empathetic towards him. That’s when it gets interesting quick. You may have noticed this, Tom, as a parent, if your 6 or 11-year-old, anytime they’re freaking out, explaining to them doesn’t work, does it?
He’s freaking out and looking for a moment where he can throw sand in the gears of Joe Biden’s conversation with America. “All I’ve got to do is throw enough sand in this guy’s gears. I will be able to distract, deflect, and disrupt his narrative because quite frankly, it’s a boring narrative. I need an escalating narrative in order to demonstrate my style of I’m going to call it leadership, but it’s my style of expression. I am going to express this thing.”
Here’s a takeaway that is going to upset people when they hear me say it. There are times when President Donald Trump was scoring points and winning the narrative and the debate by certain things that he said and did. Here are some things that Joe Biden can do next time. Let’s do those. In the narrative of selling and the narrative of marketing, you’ve got to activate dopamine inside the body. You and I have been over this a bunch of the time, but it’s important for us to do this now in regards to the debate. There are designed sentences that Donald Trump repeats over and over again to activate the dopamine system inside his listeners. They don’t know he’s doing it. More importantly, Joe Biden and the media don’t know that he’s doing it. Here’s what he does. He creates a reward, real or imagined. A reward, a statement of success, a statement of recognition and acknowledgment. He creates the statement.
“Nobody has ever had an economy like we had.” That’s called a statement of recognition. It’s a reward sentence. That listener is going to listen from two positions. Is this true or is this not true? The people that are saying that it’s not true because it’s not numerically activated are going to go down the path of a liar or this person is not being honest. That’s what they’re going to do. The person that is believing in him is going to say, “I’m not looking at the numbers. My guy is saying it’s true. It must be true.” Regrettably, truth is being purchased by this initial reward sentence. Donald Trump follows that with an anticipation sentence. “We were getting to the place where we were going to work on unification.”
That’s called an anticipatory sentence. He has now made a promise, a great nation and we’re working on the place towards unification. Whether it’s true or not, the brain cannot tell the difference inside his voters. He’s going to work on unification during the next four years. That one sentence secured his base. In the debate, he said that sentence. I want to let you know, media is not looking at that as being truthful and therefore they’re calling it false and they’re not saying, “Here’s the promise that he made. This is why his voters are going to continue to vote for him,” and people not wanting to mess with what they voted for in the past fully.
Is that similar to when Donald Trump talked about healthcare? Didn’t he do the same thing pretty much? He rolled out the statement about, “We’re going to have the best healthcare. We’ve got a plan.” All Joe Biden could do is say, “You don’t have a plan,” and he’s saying, “Yes, I have a plan.” That doesn’t go anywhere.
What Joe Biden needs to do is turn over all the cards instead of saying what he did, “You don’t have a plan.” Here’s what I would have coached Joe Biden to say, “You’re creating a moment of anticipation. That is the best marketing and sales strategy. I am glad that you’re bringing this marketing and sales strategy out in the middle of this debate so that we can see if the product is real or not. I wonder when you’re going to deliver this product. I guess it’s going to be similar to Donald Trump steaks or similar to Donald Trump things that the product is the best thing possible, but you know what? You are the best seller ever. You’re selling the American public that there’s going to be a great Republican healthcare plan.
Regrettably, they’ve never offered anything over the last sixteen years that I’ve noticed. They’re not interested in doing that because their people are not fully interested. The Republicans that are in charge aren’t interested in that. The people that are funding them are interested in keeping it status quo because they make the most money there. I guess it’s an interesting marketing strategy that you’re sharing with everybody right now. I’d rather go something that’s written down that’s going to take the nation forward, but it seems like you’re not fully interested in that.” Do you see the difference?
Donald Trump wouldn’t know. Whatever he says after that, he’s going to be tripping over himself.
That’s the thing that’s unsettling. You’ve got to be able to pull the curtain back. One of the things that are valuable and helpful is that we can call a marketing or sales strategy out in the middle of a debate and Donald Trump will have no place to stand.
Just shine some light on it.In the narrative of selling and marketing, you've got to activate dopamine inside the body. Click To Tweet
He did marketing. He is a marketing and sales guy. He’s a brand guy. A brand guy doesn’t have to deliver on the promise. They just have to make the promise.
That statement right there is interesting. Pulling the curtain back from the wizard, pulling the levers behind the curtain. If Joe Biden could do that, that would be brilliant.
All Joe Biden’s got to do is keep pulling the curtain back. “That’s the best branding sentence ever. Look at that marketing sentence and sales sentence that you did. That’s an interesting way to sell what you’re selling. Regrettably, there’s not a product behind what you’re selling, but that’s an important sales sentence. Now I can see why Make American Great Again worked so effectively for you against Hillary Clinton because you were doing a great job at selling something that you didn’t have.”
You said it flat foot in and go like, “What do you mean I didn’t have it? I got the tax cut.” You got the tax cut for those rich people that paid for your campaign. That’s why you raise money, is because those people give you $100,000 so you can save them $1 million in taxes. That doesn’t sound fair for most Americans. Regrettably, most Americans vote and there are not enough rich people to vote if Americans get mad enough at what you’re doing to the country. Americans are mad about fairness. “I think the mandate’s going to fall on my side because they’re mad about fairness not taking place. I wonder what they’re going to do at the polling places. You’re going to need to get rid of more mailboxes like you tried to do in things. You’ve got to get rid of more mail machines.”
What would you say if you were Joe Biden to where Donald Trump said, “The ballots are a disaster?”
“I am glad that you mentioned that the ballots are a disaster, but you never did anything to fix that. What you did was have your guy disassemble machines.” Why didn’t he say that in the debate? Do you see how I’m exasperated? I’m holding my head. I’m going like, “Joe Biden, he gave you the end to talk about the mailboxes coming out and the machine’s being disassembled by his guy.” “Instead of fixing the problem with the ballots to make it fair for everybody, what you did was make it fair for yourself. Now you get to prove the thing that you’re saying because you created the crisis that you’re talking about. You’re a great marketer because you’re creating the problem that you’re going to pretend to solve. That is the best marketing and sales piece that you’ve ever done. I’m amazed at the lengths that you go to market and sell your ideas.”
Most Americans can see through this, but we’ll have to see on the vote when it comes out. “As somebody that’s looking at this, I’m noticing that what genius that you’re doing. You are a genius in marketing and sales. You’re not a genius of providing leadership and fairness inside a country that’s calling himself a democracy. I guess democracy is going to need to win on this one because otherwise, you’re doing the similar things that authoritarians do. Not to say that you’re authoritarian or anything like that. What you’re doing is something similar that those countries would do. We’ll have to see how the votes are going to land on my side or not. We’ll have to see what Americans would like.” This type of powerful response is called scary honesty. The debate is that you can’t tell somebody to shut up, stop talking. I want to say something. You’re going to crack up. Tom, if you tell your kids to shut up, do they?
If you told your employee to shut up, to get in line, you cannot do that. The employee will follow it, but they will rebel by doing less work. They will rebel by looking for a new job. They will rebel by taking your IP out for a spin to some other location. You cannot tell somebody else to shut up. I have several rants here, but here’s another rant. My head wants to explode on this rant. There is a key phrase that Joe Biden says that he can never say again. “You know what the deal is.” He said it 5 to 7 times or thereabouts.
He always says like, “Here’s the deal,” or “Look.”
Who is the person who wrote the book The Art of the Deal? He’s handing him the points.
Donald Trump isn’t realizing it and doing anything with it that he could.
He is not pulling up because if he and his team read this blog, the next time he says, “Deal,” you get to say right back to him, “That’s why I wrote the book The Art of the Deal because I am the deal maker,” and Joe Biden has lost 300,000 votes. That’s all he’s got to do. We’ll have to see who picks up on this thing.
Is there anything that you thought Joe Biden did that was effective? You’ve said here what Donald Trump did was effective, obviously with his messaging and talking points, and what Joe Biden could do to deal with Donald Trump and his not following the rules to go with him at empathy.
There were three things that he did were effective. The first thing at the top of the list that he did that’s effective is stared at the camera and said, “Listen, you Americans.”
I thought that was effective too when I saw it.
The second thing he did that was effective was when he was interrupting him, he did his best to finish the sentence that he was going to complete and ignore the chatter. Eventually, he stopped doing that and that was not as effective.
I think Donald Trump interrupting so much, it threw off his train of thought to an extent too. It would to me.
Once somebody says a non-truth and I’m holding a hand up to my ear and making it as the squawky talker. When the need for truth isn’t being met here, human beings have a natural tendency to face it in a fight response. What I would coach Joe Biden to do next time is turn and face it with an empathetic phrase. It’s something that I do in mediation all the time. If somebody gives me the next point I need to talk about and I need to face it right then so it’s not a distraction. “You would like me to hear about Hunter Biden. We’re going to talk about Hunter Biden in a second, but right now I want to talk about Beau Biden and his sacrifice as a soldier and the Americans.”
I cut him off of talking about the Beau Biden story because he wanted him to talk about the mishigas around Hunter Biden and getting paid for a job that he was an advisor on. That’s a part of it and Hunter Biden dealt with that pretty good. He goes, “I’ve gotten some benefits about being my father’s son, as many Americans get benefits about having parents that are a strong leader.” That would be another thing that I would probably say, “It’s good that our kids get to learn from us.”
If you were Joe Biden, wouldn’t you say, “Just like your children have gotten a benefit from you being their father because two of your children work at the White House and they would not work there if you were not their father?” Can’t you pivot that and show you take the Hunter Biden compensation off the table?
“I wonder what your kids are getting paid for working at the White House. The records show that your kids get paid this. Isn’t it great that parents can contribute to their kids?”Trump is a brand guy. A brand guy doesn't have to deliver on the promise; they just have to make them. Click To Tweet
“Your tax records show that you paid Ivanka Trump $700,000 to be a consultant and took a deduction on that even though she was already an employee of the company.” All this stuff about Hunter Biden goes away quickly.
“As a parent, you want to give money to your kids.” “Yes.” “You mean like Ivanka Trump? You gave her $700,000. That’s an awesome salary. I wonder what she did that was valuable for $700,000.” “My kid is talented.” “You haven’t thought that your kids are talented and my kids are not talented? That’s an interesting thought. Shall we do an inventory of children right now?”
That’s going to seem like it’s a grade school fight.
“I don’t think Americans are as much interested in how our kids get paid as much as protecting them as a public servant from getting sick. I think Americans are more interested in that. Americans are more interested in their financial wellbeing with a crashed economy because we didn’t protect ourselves. That’s what Americans do. Americans would like the government to protect them from a disease rather than think it’s going to go away. That’s what I think. If people don’t think that and they want to go for wishful thinking, let them vote for you because you’re the king of wishful thinking.”
That would be beautiful. The memes that would occur all over the internet from that, the king of wishful thinking.
The narrative around truth in order to purchase truth regrettably is not about truth. It’s about increasing the reward. The anticipation and the uncertainty was the third thing that we haven’t talked about. Donald Trump is masterful.
When it came to, “Are you going to abide by the results of the election?” We’ll see what happens.
It’s always, “We’ll see what happens and people are saying.” That’s an uncertainty sentence. Who people, what people? There’s no people-people. There might be a couple of people, but that’s all directed to his people. We need herd immunity from the language of marketing and sales that capitalism has put on our doorstep in the face of a president that is good at branding and marketing. He is a living QVC for politics. He’s the next tweet that he’s selling. It’s the ticking clock to stay in front of. Meanwhile, there’s this wave of bankruptcy that’s coming behind this character as we’re discovering these taxes and his debt. The only way to get him to go away will be is to cover all of his debts. That’s the only way you’re going to get rid of this guy. The only way that the Republicans are going to get a peaceful transition from this guy is for him to be in a back room and say, “I’m not going away until my debt is covered with all these golf courses, until all these things are covering, until the money I owe to Russia is paid back.” The Republicans are going to make that so. They will pay off his debts.
Do you think that would happen in a lame-duck Congress before the end of 2020 in order to get them to go away peacefully? That’s a shame.
He is going to bribe them on paying off his debts or he is going to say, “I’m going to call my people forward and they’re going to shoot up your polling booth. They’re going to make it a mess for you.” Since they’re scared of him of doing that, they are going to give him money to go into a peaceful transition. When? I’m going to go with January 15 is when he will then say, “I’m going to resign.” Here’s what he’s going to do, “All my debts are being paid and there’s no need for me to continue in this job because finally fairness has been met in America.” Meanwhile, the American public will have no idea that they’ve paid all his debts off.
Why would he resign on January 15? Is that when Mike Pence would pardon him from anything? Is that the idea? The thing is, he can’t wait until January 15th to do it. He has to do it in 2020 because the new Congress, if it flips to Democratic control, the Senate gets installed in the beginning of January. They don’t wait until January 20th. The Senate, it has to happen in December 2020.
I need to change my date then. It would be December 15 then.
Whenever he essentially concedes the election, it will be because of this, not because of respecting the vote.
I want everybody to know. Feel free to call me. I feel like Lindsey Graham on this one. Feel free to mock my words on this one. Between election date and December 15th is going to be the worst time ever.
It’s going to be painful.
We can make it a nice clean month between November 3rd and December 3rd, rolling into December 15th. It will be excruciating for us.
It’s going to be worse than it was in 2000 with George W. Bush and Al Gore. We know it’s coming in 2000. We had no idea it was coming.
We know this is coming. This is going to be excruciating. At this point, it’s a money thing for him. It’s his debt. He’s going to get a complete pardon for all of his crimes except for the ones that are at the state level. Tom, this has been an interesting conversation.
I have a feeling we’re going to have a few more over the next month like this.
That’s the takeaways. Always remember the takeaways and having the awareness that you can always call somebody else on their strategy and then that’ll make it tend to go better.
Take care, Tom. I’ll talk to you soon.
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