You don’t need to be a political pundit to see that Republicans don’t like Mitt Romney.
Just about every other Republican contender has, for at least a few weeks, challenged Romney’s frontrunner status. Republican voters seem to want to find any alternative to this polished (too polished?) and articulate (as long as he’s debating and not responding to a media query) candidate. Voters are leery of his inconsistent positions on important issues. CNN political analyst David Gergen observed in an article in Parade magazine that Americans feel as if they don’t really know the candidate. He seems inauthentic and therefore not trustworthy.
Herman Cain suspended his candidacy recently after a nonstop series of women challenged his “holier than thou” image. Politicians’ personal lives shouldn’t sway our decisions about their competency to hold elective office, but Americans don’t tolerate inconsistencies between what politicians say and do—a definite trust-buster. Frankly, Cain’s other mistakes were to 1.) blame the media for taking him off message. (It’s not the media’s job to allow a candidate to stay on message.). And 2.) deny responsibility. (Haven’t politicians learned that the electorate doesn’t want to be lied to?) I am still waiting for voters to apply the same high standards to political promises that they do to personal values and actions. When that happens, all candidates—whether Republican or Democrat—will truly do what’s best for all Americans.
Rick Perry brought us the “Perry moment,” when he stumbled in his answer to a debate question. Since then, Perry has not been known for his positions or even the mistakes he’s made (e.g., the voting age). He’ll be forever remembered for his mind going blank under pressure. When pressed, the candidate forgot one of three tenets representing his so-called core convictions. Made you wonder whether they were deeply held beliefs or just political rhetoric. Not to mention that being President of the United States is a really high-pressure position, so we were left wondering what he might say—or forget to say—if he were elected.
Newt Gingrich’s communication style seems intentionally provocative and unintentionally revealing about some of his more troubling beliefs. His delivery mocks and disrespects the people he hopes will elect him. People are definitely talking about Newt Gingrich—he has enjoyed some strong support—but the majority of the conversation seems to be critical...as it should be!
With the above observations in mind, here are three lessons for business communicators:
- Authenticity absolutely drives trust.
- Our words and actions need to be aligned.
- Nail your three core tenets. If you can’t remember them, why should anyone else?
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Beryl Loeb is founder of the Loeb Group, which works with business executives, professional service firms, PR, advertising and digital web marketing agencies looking to accelerate their growth and transform their business through targeted skill-building. For more information, go to http://www.theloebgroup.com.