Yesterday, after some disruption in the denuclearization talks between North Korea and the United States, President Trump has “walked away” from the negotiations. In this blog post I parse Trump’s notification letter to North Korea for persuasion.
Others can perhaps speak better to the negotiating aspects than I can, so I‘m going to focus on the framing and the use of motivations, both pleasure-based and pain-based (the proverbial carrot and the stick). Also notice the transitions back and forth between the personal messages / feelings and the message to the international community, since he knows the entire world will be reading the letter. And finally, notice that the tone isn’t angry or hostile – it’s generally sad over missed opportunities but cordial and welcoming towards the right behavior in the future.
May 24, 2018
Kim Jong Un
Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [ Framing KJU as an officer of the state, not the “Supreme Leader,” his usual title. A Supreme Leader is not beholden to the state, but the Chairman of the State Affairs Committee has a responsibility on behalf of his nation. This is a powerful identity play. ]
Dear Mr. Chairman:
We greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore. [ 1. Pacing, 2. Starts with a compliment, which sets the tone of being cordial and non-hostile. 3. Highlights the efforts and pains taken (“time, patience, and effort” and “long sought”). This sets up the painful takeaway coming soon. ] We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant. [ Possibly taking the value of that away so NK can’t use it as a tradeable concession, or perhaps signaling toughness. ] I was very much looking forward to being there with you. [ Adds a personal touch, and shows openness to a turnaround by NK ] Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting. [ Painful takeaway tied directly to NK behavior ] Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place. [ Speaking to the international audience here. It’s good for US and NK individually to not have talks, but bad for the world, which frames having the talks as a selfless, generous, honorable act (and when the talks do happen, they will be perceived as such). This also implies that leaving negotiations is better for the US and NK than having them, so it’s a true walk-away. Great framing. ] You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used. [ Threat of pain. We don’t want to use them, but we will if we have to. ]
I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me [ Back to good feelings. Personal again, and indicates the situation is open to course correction ], and ultimately it is only that dialogue that matters [ All is not lost; you and I can still solve this. ]. Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you [ Future pace of good experience ]. In the meantime [i.e. before we meet in the future – presupposes they will meet], I want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated [ Internationally public praise for doing a good thing. We generously reward good behavior, and NK has shown it can be the good guy. ].
If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write [ The window is still open, but NK is at fault here and must make a change for things to continue ]. The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history [ International again. Loads of pain and takeaways here. Huge leverage. ]
Donald J. Trump
President of the United States of America
In other news, I’m working on a method to get out of cognitive dissonance for any particular concept or idea. So far it has worked 100% of the time on myself and on others one on one. I’m currently testing it with small groups.