One of the fascinating features of the current political situation are the complete reversals we are seeing. Just as Orwell predicted in his 1984, we have entered the era of ‘Doublespeak’ where you simply state the opposite of what is true as if it is the truth. Three examples are enough:
- The constant banging on in Britain that ‘the people have spoken’ and we must ‘obey the will of the people’ to leave the EU. In reality only a third voted to leave.
- That Trump may be a vulgar bully trying to run a country like his own private company, but at least he is a ‘good businessman’ and he’ll get America working again. The reality is he’s a failed businessman – his companies have filed for bankruptcy six times, and someone apparently calculated that he would have made far more money if he’d simply invested the money he inherited. So it seems he’s good at losing money, not making it.
- That you should fight fire with fire. Trump recently suggested this as a justification for his approach to dealing with the threat of terrorism. Cue comedian Harry Hill: “My Dad used to always say “Fight fire with fire!”… That’s why he was sacked from the Fire Brigade.”
This makes me think of an excellent book I’ve just read, called Difficult People: A Guide to Handling Difficult Behaviour. The author, Barry Winbolt, has spent much of his professional life training people in work settings in how to deal with tricky, aggressive or obstructive customers, and how to deal with difficult work colleagues too. But then he realised that the simple strategies he had evolved over the years for dealing with problem people could be applied in other contexts too: intimate relationships, parenting, coping with elderly relatives and so on. The result – a book which is truly empowering and a game-changer.
I’m experiencing Mr Trump as a ‘difficult person’. I’m going to see if I can apply some of this book’s principles to how I think about him. The one thing Barry suggests you should avoid is trying to ‘fight fire with fire.’!