Can Donald Trump ever become presidential? Can he ever overcome his egotistic, misogynistic, separatist, nationalistic demeanor, posturing and dialogue? If his first few days in office are any indication he has a long, long way to go – if in fact it is at all possible. Trump needs a filter. In that way, as a communications counselor, how would I be advising Donald Trump, moving forward? That’s a very, very good question.
First of all, he has proven that he does not take direction well from insiders. During his campaign he went through a host of campaign managers, often finding himself vocally and publicly in disagreement with those that lasted for any length of time. Our team worked directly with some of his staffers when he came to Detroit last year to speak. Inexperienced and indifferent to anyone and anything other than what their boss wanted, these were clearly “yes” men and women; those in no position to put forth ideas nor advice.
And that is what Donald Trump is used to. It’s how he operates. I recall interacting once with a business associate who acted similarly. He put forth too many of his opinions and directions as though they were gospel, often with no regard for potential ramifications, often through aggressive diatribes and usually with disastrous results. I suggested to him once, “You really should think before you speak.” He smugly looked back at me and indicated he did not care what I thought as he had been successful throughout his career using this modus operandi. The similarities with Trump are unmistakable. He deludes himself into thinking that how he thinks, what he says and how he acts are right. And, if you disagree with him? Well, then there’s something wrong with you. There’s no room for discussion nor discourse and absolutely no latitude for a difference of opinion. Believe me.
How he handled the women’s rights gatherings this weekend is just one more example of how he needs to adjust his approach. After initially saying nothing nor acknowledging the worldwide protests he finally took to his favorite pulpit, Twitter, to initially mock perhaps a million people worldwide. He later changed his tune, writing something at least approaching professional when he talked about why gatherings of this sort were what make America special. Too late. Damage already done.
So how would I be advising Trump? Let’s be serious – it would never happen. But if I were in a position to do so, even for just a moment, I would advise him to always consider the big picture while looking at both sides of any issue. Get all of the facts, consider them closely and then act. Don’t agree with others are saying? Acknowledge where appropriate but don’t disparage. Be professional, show class, don’t engage if you’re going to enrage. After all, he is no longer a businessman acting in his own best interests. He is not a reality TV (star?). He is President of the United States, representing we the people, both here at home and across the globe. Act responsibly, Donald. We’re counting on you.