How Not to Communicate

Category: Brad on Business published on: 8/22/2016  by Brad Cowart

Originally this article was titled “The Incredible Implosion of Donald Trump – How Not to Win Friends and Influence People.” But that was too long, and how would the Dale Carnegie corporation react? This article is not meant to advocate for any candidate. I merely want to use the example of a popular figure as a case study for business owners.

If Trump fails to win the presidency, it’ll be because he makes critical mistakes on an almost daily basis. It might seem odd to consider Trump a failure, after all, even running a national campaign connotes success, not to mention that he’s built a business empire that’s made him a billionaire. With all that success, it’s hard to understand why his words seem so miscalculated. As a warning to other entrepreneurs (and myself), I write this article.

Psychology of an Entrepreneur

Trump is a strong-willed person, just as business owners must be. You have to be self-motivated and confident to build a business. You can’t let no’s deter or bad days discourage. Entrepreneurs must constantly pick themselves up and get going again. These traits are critical to long-term success. Yet the same determination that builds your empire can cause it to crumble if allowed to run wild.

This is exactly what Trump is doing. Remember months ago when the primaries were starting? His was a fresh voice for politics done differently, while focusing on American core values. He stressed his vision, and the nation responded positively. Trumps’ ideas are deeply held; he is passionate about his vision.

Unfortunately, that passion gets the better of his judgment and causes problems. I’ve found that most business owners are very passionate about their visions. Entrepreneurs truly believe they can improve their customers’ quality of life. After all, we created the product or service; we nurtured it. Yet too many times we get caught up in the heady rush of excitement when presenting our products or services to a prospective customer. Just like Trump, we can get carried away.

A flurry of sales talk, exaggerations, declarations that this is the best thing ever, coupled with a rising voice and impassioned pleading does not convince; it simply alienates. The saying that you catch more flies with honey is so true.

Lessons from Trump

Focus is Key
Trump speaks off the cuff and is easily distracted, many times by himself. He has the advantage of a prepared pitch and teleprompter and should be focused, but he often isn’t.

You should be prepared. Concentrate on your core message (your unique selling position). Don’t allow yourself to get off track. Know what you will say and build your points logically, in order. When you present properly, the prospect will know what you do and what is expected of them. Their questions will be more on target as well.

It’s NOT About You
Trump attacks often, no matter how big or small the provocation. It seems he takes everything personally and has to defend his honor.

You should realize that questions and even negative reactions are about the product and rarely about you. I know the business is your life. Don’t they realize you’re trying to help? Unfortunately not. Be passionate about your product but not pushy. Really listen—they may have a misunderstanding. If nothing else, they can provide feedback that will help you improve. Don’t take rejection as a personal slight.

Tone and Body Language Matter
Trump often looks angry. Notice his florid face, his volume, they way he leans in and jabs with his finger. These are all defensive postures which tend to incite others.

You should be relaxed. Bring people into the conversation. Open up: Don’t place objects, including crossed arms or legs, between you and the prospect. Smile, nod in agreement, use facial expressions and listen as much as you talk. Prospects respond well when you show an interest in helping them. Cooperation Counts
Trump bludgeons opponents as if to sway them by force. However, the harder he pushes, the more his opponents dig their heels in.

You should foster an environment of cooperation. Is the goal to sell something and immediately move on to the next potential customer? I hope not. When you think of a sale as the start of a relationship everyone wins. As you build upon that foundation, you strengthen the bond; you may just make a friend as well as get referrals.

It Takes a Village
Trump shuns criticism. Many politicians, as well as campaign staff, have urged him to change his presentation style, so far to no avail. You should be open to change. Read blogs and books, watch webinars, attend seminars and find a core group of advisors with experience to help you. Stand out by recognizing that you don’t know it all. Be inquisitive, grow each day and eventually you’ll find others coming to you for advice.


No one is perfect; everyone makes mistakes. I realize entrepreneurs will have struggles in communicating due to their personalities. We see, on our national political stage, a failure to communicate effectively. So many dislike Trump because of his style and fail to hear his words. Be smart, control what you say and how you deliver. Listen, learn and you’ll convert more prospects into clients.