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Dale Carnegie vs. Donald Trump. Is the Way People Talk to Each Other Changing?

Is Dale Carnegie “Friendly Me” Communication Out? Is Donald Trump “Fear Me” Communication in? Is Friendly in the Workplace on Life Support?

Will you experience more conflict in your office this year? Are people around you increasingly more edgy, brittle, and less likely to compromise? When conflict erupts, is it more difficult to patch it up and move on?

The way we are communicating with each other is changing in this disruptive, volatile world.

Is Dale Carnegie “Friendly Me” Communication Out? Is Donald Trump “Fear Me” Communication in?

The insights and techniques of Dale Carnegie, the relationship authority of the 20th Century, dominated the last century and are still often guidelines for today. His book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, published in 1936, has sold over 30 million copies world-wide.

Even more startling is the book’s influence today. In 2011, it was number 19 on Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential books. Dale Carnegie Courses are fundamental tools in management training for many companies today.

How Did Dale Carnegie “Friendly Me” Principles Work?

Dale Carnegie took people emerging from the American farms of the 1930’s, brought them from awkward and inept communication and gave them an approach to what worked in the workplace and gained influence and attracted friends.

Dale Carnegie interaction become the standard for the way people should treat each other.
Here are some of the basic Dale Carnegie principles.

  1. It’s all about the person you are talking to, not you, so talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
  2. Remember the person’s name. It’s the sweetest sound in the world to him or her. Use it frequently.
  3. Don’t blame the other person for anything—it will just make him or her defensive.
  4. If you want someone to change his or her mind, make them think it’s their idea. They’ll get credit and do it.

Are Dale Carnegie “Friendly Principles” on Life Support?

Dale Carnegie principles have value, but their “just let’s all get along” principles have been on life support for decades. People in the workplace often find that intimidation and verbal attacks can work very well for them, as well as pouting and passive aggressiveness.

Often, in fact, people schooled in Dale Carnegie principles are fertile ground for verbal terroristic attacks from people who are adept at wielding words like powerful weapons.

Why Donald Trump Communications Work—Big Time!

Introducing the dawn of Donald Trump communication—make no mistake: It is powerful and effective.

The structure of Donald Trump communication focuses on The Art of the Deal—walking away from an exchange with the best outcome possible. It is not winning friends and influencing people or building peer relationships of trust and commonalities.

The effectiveness of Donald Trump’s deal-making approach to communication is:

  1. Develop relationships that center on people’s personal loyalty to you. Demand and require loyalty. Create the image of the person that people wish they were—attractive and commanding with a clear, powerful message.
  2. Select messages that resonate with people that others are too polite to articulate… and stay with those messages.
  3. Begin with relentless attack—and make it personal. Look for differences rather than commonalities. People’s counterattacks help bring attention to you and your message.
  4. Keep the people off balance and destabilize them by any means possible. If you find people disagreeing with you, change what you’re saying. Never let them know where you currently stand on an individual point.
  5. Never admit wrong—never say you’re sorry. The people who admire you and see you as powerful never want to see you as weak, defeated, or in retreat. Never let that occur.
  6. Declare victory. You are the embodiment of what people wish they were, and they must always see you as winning.

Are Donald Trump Communications “In” in organizations today and Dale Carnegie Out?

Donald Trump communications have always been present in organizations and can be quite effective. Steve Jobs comfortably used many of these techniques both at Apple and Pixar. Jeff Bezos has built a retail empire by confrontation and conflict with board, investors, and employees. Many CEO’s have made their marks on organizations by bucking commonly held points of view, going against norms, gaining personal loyalty, destabilizing and attacking.

Dale Carnegie consensus style communication can be highly ineffective in organizations. Non-conflictive communications often generates group think and requires that nobody names the elephants in the room that need to be dealt with directly.

Our consulting clients cover a wide spectrum of industries, sizes of organizations, geographies and run the gamut from early stage to 100+ years old. The employees and leadership of these organizations include people on the left, on the right, in the middle and dot in the political galaxy. While these folks may have very sharp elbows in external negotiations and may be direct to the point of harsh in internal assessments of performance and competence, we do NOT see the rise of Trump Communication in the workplace.

Why would that be? Simple. Because organizations don’t run by transactions and deals. They get work done, goals exceeded, IPOs completed, and products launched through the best thinking of many. That requires collaboration, communication, influence and compromise. Trump Communication…when used WITHIN the organization…destroys the trust needed to collaborate, communicate, influence and compromise.

In the end, it’s the Art of the Relationship…not the Art of the Deal…that wins the day

Austin, Texas

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Carol Kallendorf, PhD. | (512) 417-9756 

Jack Speer | (512) 417-9428


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