It’s no news that this election year is riddled with gutter politics. As I watch the race for highest office in America, and arguably the world, I find actions and responses from both candidates laughable and cringe-worthy at times. On the flip side, these candidates are giving us valuable lessons on how to navigate the office. Here are a few gems:
Your body language speaks louder than your words
Research has shown that when communicating one-on-one or in a group your body language is the number one factor that comes across to your audience. So your tone and words can be syrupy sweet but if your body language is giving off another emotion, your audience will discredit your words and focus on the offending body language.
This is Hillary’s Achilles Heel in my view. In debates, she’s saying all the right things her base wants to hear but her body language comes across as wonky, stiff, measured and flat. It’s so hard to connect with someone with a disjointed communication style. The lesson here: get feedback from close work friends and personal friends about your body language. Ask them to describe the vibe you give off to them when you are happy, nervous, sad, anxious, stressed, relaxed, worried. Ask for a perspective on all your emotional states. Doing this exercise will help you get a picture of the vibe you put out. You may not be able to transform all aspects of your body language but awareness will help you minimize distracting nonverbal behaviors.
In Trump’s case, we could spend days on his body language no-no’s. Let’s zone in on his facial expressions. During the debates, the camera panned to Trump’s face showed and showed a man with a tightly wound expression: pursed lips, squinted eyes, and hunched shoulders. I’m sure you aren’t sitting in a conference room with a Trump face, but we all have a resting b*tch face. Check yours and check often. People are watching your body language to get your reaction to comments being made in the meeting. You could be sending off an unintentional negative perspective, again ask a close work friend to observe you during meetings over the course of a few months and give you feedback.
Authenticity is the juice
It’s safe to say that Trump got this far because he struck a chord with a base who wanted someone who would say exactly how they feel without constraint or political correctness. Both candidate’s resumes are diametrically different from each other’s. Hillary’s resume checks all the boxes for president but Trump has a seat at the table because she’s not considered trustworthy and authentic. On the other hand, Trump’s business failings and personal shortcomings should’ve had his resume tossed out at first glance but his authenticity is keeping him in the running. Authenticity wins loyal followers on the campaign trail and at work. We all want to feel like someone is giving us the real deal, their true selves. Okay, so you can’t say everything that comes to mind at work. You need to filter some responses with your coworkers but don’t over do it. Let your true self show up as much as possible. Allow people to see you, so they can connect with you.
You can be overly prepared
Many people I’ve talked to about the debates zoned out when Hillary got into wonk mode. We get it, Hill. You know the inner workings of how to get a bill passed, your policies have a three-pronged approach, ya-da, ya-da ya-da. But where are the sound bites? What is the key message you want people to remember? Can you give us the poignant message—The zinger—The aha moment? Maybe we’ve been spoiled by the Obamas’ ability to give us aha moments using simple words in our new world of 140 Twitter characters. The point is, you should make sure you are getting your message across at work in a simple, easy to digest format. Don’t be the long-winded and overly prepared school marm spewing facts and minutiae at every moment. Know when to get in the weeds and when to rise 30,000 feet and drop key points.
Don’t compromise your integrity to get along
The big loser out of the Trump hot mic scandal is Billy Bush; a news anchor on the Today Show who’s currently sitting at home suspended from work because he chose to play along with a seazebag. I haven’t followed Bush’s career long enough to know if he’s cut from the same cloth as Trump, but in the recordings he sounded lock and step with Trump’s lewd comments. Perhaps Bush didn’t really find Trump’s comments funny but he went along to get along and it came back to unravel his decades-long career.
We’ve all nodded along to a negative comment or responded to an email with a “LOL” or smiley face letting your colleague know you are in agreement even though you are slightly uncomfortable with the comment. I’m sure you aren’t nodding at egregious comments. It’s the little slights that come back to haunt us. Perhaps your close work friend learned that you didn’t stand up for her in that closed-door meeting she didn’t get invited to, or you allowed someone to take credit for work you know your colleague slaved over. Whenever you have an opportunity to stand up against minor or significant slights at work, do so. Your intentions won’t go unnoticed and when the rubber meets the road, people will remember where you stood.
As the dog days of this laughable election year draws to a close we can appreciate the lessons we’re learning from this train wreck. Whoever wins this election will give us loads of material to write about over the course of the next four years. Stay tuned. Don’t move to Canada just yet.