You need to learn how to defend yourself. If you can’t defend your image, you’re destined to get crushed in the world. This post will show you exactly how Donald Trump handles these high stakes situations.
For context, this post examines the 11 ways Trump defended himself in Republican Debate in Houston a couple days ago. I created a video that highlights each moment and I recommend you watch it first then read this analysis.
Here's the video:
HIGHLIGHT VIDEO OF TRUMP DEFENDING HIMSELF
The Houston debate was particularly difficult for Mr. Trump. He was leading in all the polls beforehand meaning that in this debate, his opponents were looking to do one thing to him…
Yup, they were out for blood.
This was their last chance at taking down the giant that’s been revolutionizing American politics.
Their one shot.
In this post, I’m going to show you the story behind how Trump can handle himself with clear ease against two highly trained debaters.
For him to win this, all he had to do was survive, but nothing was spared in this debate. Rubio and Cruz, the two other republican candidates, and the moderators all went at him viciously on hiring illegal workers, his tax plan, tax return, his Hispanic support, and anything else they could think of.
But in typical Trump fashion, he destroyed his opposition and kept his lead.
This guide is for you. If you’re ever in a corporate meeting, or in a high-stakes negotiation situation. You need to know how to defend yourself. It’s great to have an amazing pitch, but if you’re not able to defend your position, it’s just going to crumble.
Here are the 11 tactics Trump used to defend himself:
Reframing is a popular Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Technique in Therapy. Where you take one negative scenario and change the context to show it in a positive light.
That’s exactly what Trump does when Rubio drops a bomb on him:
Acknowlede that, for example, you’re the only person this stage that’s ever been fined for hiring people to work on your projects illegally
But Trump replies:
No, I’m the only one on this stage that’s hired people.
Trump saw this coming, interrupted Rubio’s claim and reframed it to show him as a successful businessman. He changes the frame from an attack into a compliment. Brilliant.
2. Emphasize Your Strengths
You’ll see that Donald Trump is constantly re-affirming the fact that he’s hired tens of thousands of workers. He’s been doing it all throughout his campaign and the more times he repeats his slogan, the more familiar you become with Trump as a Character. It’s good branding.
So when Rubio mentions that he hired illegal immigrants, Trump immediately and throughout his rebuttal repeats that he’s hired tens of thousands of people and no one else had done that.
3. Attack Back
Right away he starts criticizing Rubio for his credit card problems. It’s extremely important that you attack back because if people think they can walk all over you, then they will. You need to be quick, this is not the time to think of the perfect insult, but rather to fire as soon as possible. The faster the better. I will go into this in a bit more depth later on.
4. Interrupt and Deny
Rubio stays on message and repeats that Trump was fined $1 million dollars for hiring these illegal polish works.
Trump immediately interjects with
“wrong, totally wrong.”
The idea here is that by interrupting you have the chance that you might derail your opponent. In this case, his opponent is no amateur. Nevertheless, by interrupting you’re also showing the audience two things. One, that you deserve to interrupt someone because what you’re saying is more important. Two, you immediately dismiss the notion that your opponent might be right by addressing it immediately.
By addressing the situation immediately you don’t let the thought percolate in your audience’s head. We all believe things that aren’t technically correct and the longer we sit with these falsehoods in our heads the longer we might think they’re actually true.
A good example is Ted Cruz not being a natural born citizen. His mother is American and thus, he was born an American. So of course, he’s a natural born citizen. However, Trump put doubt in people’s head. By not addressing it immediately Ted Cruz’s let people think he might not be eligible. A big mistake for him.
In the same argument that Rubio lays on him, he interrupts him again and dismisses his attack. He immediately says:
“Don’t tell me about that.”
But it’s not the words that I want to highlight, it’s his tone and body language. He says it with disgust that screams, “how dare you” and swats him away with his hands.
This is important on an emotional level. You need to show that you’re not taking these arguments seriously because you don’t want your audience to take them seriously either.
If you start taking it seriously then others will too. This is why you need to dismiss your opponent and have the body language to back it up.
6. Put it in Context
When Rubio first brought up the fact that he hired illegal immigrants, the audience had no idea of the backstory behind it. By giving the audience the backstory, he resolves the issue. Trump uses two critical pieces of information to put this in context. He could have said that it was his contractors who hired them and that he had no idea. Many respectable individuals have used similar arguments, but let’s face it. That’s a cop out.
So he decides to say two things instead.
"It was over 30 years ago… You bring up a closed case. We settled the case and everyone was happy."
Now in the audience’s mind. They’re thinking why would Rubio rely on information that was over 30 years old, does he have nothing else? And he settled it, it’s over. There’s nothing more to talk about.
Whereas, if he passed the blame onto his contractor then they could attack him on hiring deceitful contractors.
By putting Rubio’s attack in context, Trump resolves the issue at hand
For context, Cruz attacks Donald Trump with the accusation that he funded the gang of eight, politicians that were in favor of open borders.
Again he puts that accusation in context. He states that he is world class businessman who gets along with everyone, that’s why he donated to everyone, including the gang of eight. Then he uses his seventh tactic.
He immediately launches a deadly attack on Cruz.
"You don't have one Republican Senator endorsing you despite the fact that you spend all day with them. You should be ashamed of yourselves."
Trump wants the audience to question how they can elect a president who can’t get along with anyone.
This is an important strategy because it develops your reputation. By attacking those who attack you, you show the world that you’re not to be messed with. You set a precedent for others saying that if you decide to attack Trump, he will hit you twice as hard. It’s important that you always defend yourself, else you risk creating a reputation that people can walk all over you.
8. Use Humour
This was the best joke Trump made all night. He was asked:
“A new Telemundo poll shows that 3/4 Hispanics don’t like you. Doesn’t that make you unelectable?”
But Trump fired back:
“First of all, I don’t believe anything Telemundo says.”
Then we went on to say how he currently employs thousands of Hispanics. He stayed on message and repeated how big of a support base is. And that he’s so much better than everyone else.
He uses this as an opportunity to spread his other talking points all because he diffused the situation with comedy.
9. Use simple and quick language.
Debates often get criticized for not delving into the substance of a candidate’s policies and only skim the surface.
As a result, Wolf Blitzer asks Trump a difficult and specific questions here.
“Your tax cuts will cost the country 10 trillion dollars, how will you avoid putting the country in even more debt?”
The challenge here to respond with a simple answer that satisfies the complex question. Ben Carson has great answers to solving the America’s healthcare issues but his answers are boring.
As a politician, you need to keep your audience’s attention at all cost! So this presents Trump a challenge and I want to highlight how he answers it.
“The country will become a dynamic country. We have the highest taxes in the world. It’s shutting down the country. We will eliminate certain agencies, like the department of education and the environmental agency. Yes, we will do my tax plan and it will make the country great again.”
He skirts around the issue, but the sneaky Wolf Blitzer cleverly has the answers pre-researched. He says:
“If you eliminate the department of education, that’s 68 billion. The environmental agency is 8 billion. You’re still short because the deficit is 500 billion.”
Trump circumvents the specifics and provides as satisfying response by using something simple:
“Waste, fraud and abuse. We’ll cut down on waste, fraud and abuse.”
He uses simple language to get his point across that makes sense at first glance. That’s what is important.
10. Play the victim
This is an important strategy because it addresses our sense of fairness. At a some level, we all more or less believe that people should be treated fairly. So when someone plays the victim, we tend to lay off them and give them sympathy points. You might think you’re above playing the victim, but it’s a useful strategy for shaming others who play unfairly. It’s a strategy that Trump uses all the time.
In this instance, Trump’s being attacked for not releasing his tax returns. In his rebuttal, he goes on to say that’s the IRS has audited him every 12 years and that he can’t release his tax returns until the IRS finishes their audit. He goes on to say how it’s unfair that he’s been audited for 12 years despite the fact that they’ve never found anything.
Then after his third question, he says this and plays the victim again.
“Are you going to ask every single question to me? Every single question? I know I'm good for the ratings, but it’s a little ridiculous”
By playing the victim, it means you’re exposing unfair treatment. It’s a moral argument that you’re attacker should lay off unless he wants to be seen as a monster. And it works in this case as Hugh Hewitt moves on to questioning Marco Rubio.
Sidebar, here's a really great example of Trump attacking back right away.
Hugh Hewitt asks him this question:
“On my show you said you would release your tax returns. Are you going back on your word?”
Trump see this a blatant attack on his character and defends himself by attacking back.
“First of all, very few people listen to your radio show that’s the good news."
This is to show that playing the victim does not mean you need to adopt the victim mentality. As Trump easily switches back to attacking. This is one of your many strategies to use.
11. Explain Your Opponent’s Behaviour
Cruz attacks him on about 7 different subjects. Trump responds by saying he’s crushing him in the polls.
Then he also points out the fact why they’re attacking him.
“Let me tell you this because you’re really getting beaten badly. I know you’re embarrassed and I know you’re embarrassed (pointing at Rubio) but keep fighting keep swinging.
This makes it clear to your audience why they’re seeing the behaviour that’s currently happening. By calling it out, you help put the whole argument in discussion and re-frame the situation. In this case, he’s saying that the two are only attacking him because he’s winning. He subtlely reminds the audience that he’s the winning candidate here.
If you haven't already do watch the video where I highlight all these moments in the debate because it's more visceral that way. Trump had a very difficult debate. His opponents used everything they had against them and he still stood strong. Trump has over 40 years of business experience. A lot of what you see here comes naturally to him. But for me and you, we need to learn.
Look over these strategies again and pick one of them to use in your real life. Or even better start noticing how other people use these strategies in your own life. Personally, my little brother will always play the victim card to get out of doing dishes and every time I call him out on his strategy.