I consider myself to be a a kind of connoisseur of communication style. I observe others, almost pathologically at times, to learn more about how we express ourselves to and with one another. I’m actually eavesdropping on a conversation right now at a local coffee shop where I hang out. I can’t seem to help myself. Don’t worry – I rarely ever follow anyone home.
What I am specifically curious about today is how we come to choose whom to put our faith in, whose ideas to subscribe to, in this case, in regards to choosing a candidate for president of the United States. How are our hearts and minds won over so that we will want to invest ourselves more fully into a given candidate’s way of thinking?
One significant conclusion I’ve come to is that it is not so often what they say or claim (the content), but how they express it (rhetorical style) that determines the extent to which prospective constituents will engage. To be clear, a candidate can know the subject matter backwards and forwards, but if he or she cannot effectively express that same subject matter, then the message may fall upon deaf ears – they will have effectively lost our interest.
Can this be said of the reverse? What if they express themselves masterfully, eloquently, with much bravado, yet lack any real substance or evidence to support their claims? Do they fail as orators? Interestingly enough, not necessarily.
As an example I offer Donald Trump, the current frontrunner among GOP candidates for president of the United States. He is a charismatic speaker, to say the least, who has indeed mastered the art of the deal. Take a look at some of the claims he has made in his bid for the presidency, all of which are false, and yet he continues to win caucus after caucus and dominate his fellow candidates in the polls.