The candidates would fail my COMM 1310 class simply because students learn effective ways to communicate messages, adapt messages to specific audiences and how to understand verbal and nonverbal messages.
Listening and responding are topics in chapter five of COMM 1310’s “Communication principals for a lifetime.” Both presidential nominees have been terrible at listening and responding in the debates. The candidates seem incapable of listening and responding, whether it was a question that went way off topic and spun into what the candidate wanted to talk about, interruptions and opposing candidate and moderator alike.
According to Vox, Trump interrupted Clinton 51 times during the first debate, while Clinton interrupted Trump 17 times. However, in the first debate, starring Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, in which Romney interrupted Obama four times and Obama interrupted Romney seven times.
Trump fails time and time again to adapt his message to the audience. It seems as though after he attacks a group he then tries to grab their vote.
With hashtags trending on twitter such as “#TrumpStalk” during the second presidential debate, spatial awareness became key. Many of Trump’s nonverbal cues looked “like a dog who’s starting to get anxious, he’s being backed in a corner quoted body language expert and president of the Body Language Institute Janine Driver. Driver also went on to say she was nervous because many of Trump’s actions looked like a pre-assault indicator by entering and hovering around Clinton’s space.
Hillary intentionally went into his space and walked in front of Trump and during those times he never interrupted her.
Trump had several pet actions such as sniffling to accent his points, pacing and frequent sips of water. As Trump is asked about uncomfortable topics such as his tax returns, you can see him visibly purse his lips and he also scowls and shakes his head in an effort to dispute any comment.
Clinton on the other hand, when asked about her emails just blinked frequently and often held the blink a tad longer than usual, indicating some amount of nervousness but not enough for a voter to lose confidence in her answers as being truthful.
In a lot of ways, we are pre-conditioned to not like Trump. At 6’2” Trump looks like a modern-day Jafar from Disney’s Aladdin in comparison to Clinton. Trump invades and often pulls her into his own space in an effort to intimidate.
Both candidates are polling at negative levels for approval with Clinton at 49 percent and Trump at 42 percent. The onslaught of material and scandal for the each of them to other one to throw at each other seems to surface every day, so neither candidate can afford a screw up in communication. Potential voters already lack trust in Clinton from her email scandal.
Trump’s missteps both as a general communicator and on the debate stage cost him massive amounts of public support, and ultimately elevated Hillary Clinton’s communication style and message throughout the debates.
If Trump wants to salvage anything, let alone the reputation of the Republican party, he needs to go back to the communication basics.
– Jakob R. Rodriguez is a journalism freshman