2017/01/02

How to Deal with Donald Trump

I don't know Donald Trump, but I've dealt with his specific cluster of personality traits before. I have some rules for dealing with them. You may find them useful the next few years.

1. If possible, do not engage

This may seem like useless advice, given Trump will be President in three weeks But keep it in mind. The best possible strategy for dealing with someone like Trump is: Don't. Go no contact, do not engage with him. Do something else more productive.

2. If you have to engage, be BIFF

If you are forced to engage with him, keep it Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm (BIFF). Don't get into Twitter wars. Don't antagonize him or try to set him off (he'll go off on his own anyway). Be impersonal but friendly.

Pick your battles carefully. But once you do pick a position and draw a line, do not waver from it no matter what Trump and his allies throw at you.

3. Believe actions, not words

Trump's words are meaningless -- or, worse, a distraction or smokescreen that obscures what's really going on. Don't pay a lot of attention to them; prioritize attention to actions. Don't over-analyze his words.

Never ever trade something in exchange for a promise from Trump. Demand payment up front if you must violate rule #1.

When Trump does one thing and says another, believe what he does and ignore the words.

4. Do not give the benefit of the doubt

We reflexively give the benefit of the doubt, especially to the President. Our political institutions codify this. The strong temptation is to give Trump chance after chance.

That makes no sense at this point. He had his chance after winning the election to turn over a new leaf and to demonstrate what kind of President he plans to be.

This means that him saying something has zero effect, for or against, on whether or not you should believe it.

5. Use positive reinforcement

You get what you reward. Sometimes Trump will say or do things that actually make sense. Positively reinforce when he does, while keeping in mind rules 2-4. Give praise for this, even if his other actions are terrible.

But don't reward him for words.

6. Don't normalize the abnormal

It's a slippery slope. A situation may not be changeable today, but that does not mean it cannot be changed. Simultaneously be realistic, while working towards a better tomorrow.

7. Be patient and proactive

"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."
-- Mark Twain

"Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority."
-- Francis Bacon

Trump and his allies have enormous power right now. But it's fragile, based on reality distortion. In the long run, if we keep the record clear, this can be apparent.

Trump will do everything possible to muddy the record. Defend the record, make sure that the ground truth is available for those who want it.

8. Keep Reading and Learning

Keep informing yourself. Start with these excellent articles from the Atlantic and Teen Vogue if you haven't read them already:

http://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2016/11/a-reflexive-liar-in-command-guidelines-for-the-media/508832/

http://www.teenvogue.com/story/donald-trump-is-gaslighting-america

[Originally published Jan 2, 2017 at https://plus.google.com/115608553892438743738/posts/9YTq4MQd53o]

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