In my previous post I described the four personality types characterizing the fleet of United States presidential candidates. Using the Process Communication Model (PCM®) as a framework for analysis and prediction, here’s my take on Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Bernie Sanders, and Marco Rubio. I’ll tackle the remainder in my next post.
If you are looking for recommendations on who to vote for or an analysis of their platforms, look somewhere else. Instead, I’ll reveal a powerful and often overlooked factor in who captures our attention and votes.
Hint: It has nothing to do with what they have to say, and everything to do with how they say it.
Trump is compelled to act dramatic because he’s a Promoter. The more calm he gets, the more it reveals his weakness in the Thinker and Persister parts of his personality. He has very little interest in, or command of, data and facts. He also has few, if any, convictions that last longer than the next poll. Many Persisters are supporting him because they mistakenly interpret his action-orientation to be motivated by convictions. In distress Trump turns the tables and switches sides to create negative drama. He makes rash accusations and big promises to keep the drama going, keeping positive attention on himself and negative attention on others. Opportunity and excitement are his driving motives. This will eventually alienate many Persisters. Thinkers will abandon him because he simply doesn’t know enough about key issues to make good decisions.
This Clinton is monolithic. She cautiously stays in her Thinker framework, presumably because it’s her strongest personality type. While it does reinforce her hard-working, smart-thinking persona, it hurts engagement with Persisters who are looking for a candidate with strong convictions and a backbone. They aren’t impressed by her knowledge and work experience, which probably frustrates her since she likely has the highest IQ of any candidate. Hillary should take a page from her husband’s playbook. Bill was able to effortlessly move to all six parts of his personality. In fact, Bill was a student of PCM. He and his staff were trained in it and he had this to say about Taibi Kahler, the creator of PCM.
Taibi Kahler is a genius. He knows more about personality dynamics than anyone I know in the world. – Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States
This Bush will continue to struggle with Trump because his Persister approach is incompatible with Trump’s Promoter tactics. Jeb periodically slips into distress and becomes preachy, but mostly he stays the course on his values, drawing on facts only enough to support his convictions. He stays away from too much action-oriented language. He likes to question Trump’s integrity, but it’s futile because Trump doesn’t speak that language. An example is that Bush continues to bring up the bankruptcy issue as if it reflects on Trump’s moral character. Action-oriented people are unaffected by values-based conversations.
Bush would do better at getting under Trump’s skin by questioning his potency. Get a rise out of Trump by questioning his ability to get anything done or highlighting examples of when he failed to get what he wanted. Promoters can’t stand being blocked. Jeb will continue to question Hillary’s integrity, but would be more effective against her by challenging her knowledge and experience. Unfortunately, when it comes to IQ, Hillary is quite a bit smarter than Jeb.
Fiorina has more personality agility than any of her Republican competition. She moves effortlessly between Persister, Thinker, and Promoter. She knows her facts, is clear, consistent, and passionate about her values, and is precise and quick with action steps. This agility allows her to shift perceptual frames of reference depending on who she is talking with. It also means she won’t fluster easily. She is able to attack all three of these personality types on their own terms.
Fiorina may be too sharp and too professional for the Harmonizers, 75% of whom are women. She could gain a lot of ground in the polls by showing a softer side, though, since Harmonizers make up 30% of the population. In this way she is just like Hillary. Which one of them will have the skill, courage, and agility to reach out to Harmonizers without compromising her credibility? It may make all the difference. It’s how Bill Clinton won the famous 1996 debate against my fellow Kansan, Bob Dole, and went on to win the election. Fiorina will perform best against Clinton if she continues to focus on specific accomplishments and experience.
Sanders starts from his Thinker personality part, but moves to his Harmonizer and Persister. He’s agile like Fiorina, but with a different mix of personalities. His Persister part brings an authenticity that many find refreshing, his Thinker has a command of the facts and figures to support his arguments, and his Harmonizer comes through in his concern for social justice. I predict he will continue to rise in the polls and pose a real threat to Clinton.
Rubio can’t stop talking about facts, and it’s hurting him. He’s on Thinker lock down. Even when given easy opportunities to push other candidates to demonstrate their knowledge, he doesn’t. He just over-explains. Rubio could gain considerable ground by visiting his Persister personality part and showing his convictions. Furthermore, his interest in “reasonable and responsible” approaches could easily be expanded into “work together and find unity,” effectively engaging the Harmonizer contingent. He’s smart, young, and aware of what’s going on. Unless he can connect with other personality types he won’t be able to compete with the candidates that have captured the limelight so far.
In my next post I’ll share my views on the rest of the Republican candidates.
If you are curious about the Process Communication Model, here are a few links.
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