Parsing Persuasion: International Diplomacy Edition

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

His Excellency
Kim Jong Un
Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of KoreaΒ  Β [ 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. ]
Pyongyang

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. ]

Sincerely yours,

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.

Negations and Reversals in Persuasion, Or, Team Trump’s Tweet Trip-up

Today, Donald Trump’s official Twitter account posted the following tweet.

Let’s unpack the persuasion in this tweet from the perspective of associations and negations (I’ll talk about the final leading question in a moment).

First, the negations and reversals. The mind processes negations by understanding the core un-negated idea first, and then negating it. Take the example, “The dog isn’t running.” You have to think of a dog running first, before you can negate it. (I thought of a dog running, and then it abruptly stopped and just sat there.)

So, looking at it that way, “tax cut” is processed as “not tax” and “end the big tax cuts” is processed as “not (not tax).” “Raise taxes” is processed as “tax” because it has no negation. So now we have:

with Nancy Pelosi wanting to not (not tax) and tax

It takes the mind a moment to sort that out.

Now let’s consider the associations. The first sentence qualifies his audience to Republicans, so let’s take that position for this exercise. Assuming they (we) have bad/negative associations to tax and to Nancy Pelosi, and good/positive associations to the rest – energy, excitement, winning, and a strong economy – the associations go like this:

Good. Good, and good. Good, and with bad wanting to not (not bad) and bad, why wouldn’t we win?

Wait, what?

The shift from good associations to bad associations is jarring, as is the shift from easily processed ideas to a complicated thing to sort out. That also muddles the pre-suasion / context for the final question.

Now, if the associations (i.e. emotional pre-suasion) up to this point had been super clear and unambiguous, the “why wouldn’t we win?” question might have been ok because it would be emotionally obvious that he meant it rhetorically. Consider this set of associations:

Good. Good, and good. Good, and with good, why wouldn’t we win?

The context is better.

That ending question is still not a great idea though, because questions demand answers and he probably didn’t want people thinking of reasons why he wouldn’t win.

The tweet is still effective overall, but the way it was structured with complicated negations and confused associations reduced its effectiveness.

The Hidden Structure Behind Kanye West’s Brilliant “Association Collapse” Persuasion

“When you embrace both sides of any polarity – bringing a positive and negative charge together – they cancel each other out. You are left with an empty space of unlimited potential.” – Paul Scheele

Kanye West unleashed a brilliant method of getting the idea of him running for President in 2024 in millions of people’s heads.

Because West is a master persuader, I can tell you how it works.

West has posted dozens of tweets over the last few days referencing such ideas as changing, being excited about the future, spreading love, unity, and rethinking perspectives. Some examples:

Reading these tweets evokes the states that Kanye wants people to experience: hope for the future, love, being willing to learn, breaking out of old thought patterns, letting go of fear, how competent Kanye is, and more.

After three days of this – building interest, positive feelings, and media attention – West introduces a powerful symbol: Trump’s red MAGA hat.

For some, that red hat symbolizes the end of American weakness and apologizing, and a return to the competitive optimistic spirit that made America the most powerful nation the world has ever seen. For others, and perhaps for the majority of West’s millions of fans, that hat symbolizes all that they are afraid of: hate, fear, oppression, and racial tensions. And many of them, thanks partially to the Clinton campaign’s persuasion work and to the mainstream media, associate those same feelings to Trump himself.

But West doesn’t just introduce the MAGA hat; he tweets a picture of himself WEARING that hat. This smashes those negative MAGA hat and Trump associations into the same time and space as all those positive states he spent the last 3 days evoking in people: love, openness to new ideas, optimism, learning, and breaking away from old mindsets. Those two sets of associations can’t exist in people’s experience at the same time, so they integrate and cancel each other out, leaving what Scheele above calls the “empty space of unlimited potential.”

And what does West do with that space of unlimited potential? He fills it with this powerful image.

West masterfully executed a classic pattern on a mass scale: he knew most of his fans had negative associations to Donald Trump and to the MAGA cause, and because of those negative associations they were unreceptive to the new ideas West wanted to spread. So WestΒ stacked a lot of newly evoked good states and integrated them with the stack of existing negative states to neutralize them, and used the resulting space to create something positive: West for president 2024.

Bonus Persuasion: West’s 2024 slogan “Keep America Great” is a persuasion play on Trump’s mission. It presupposes that Trump will “Make America Great Again,” so that West can inherit that mission and Keep America Great.

UPDATE:

Black male approval for Trump doubles in one week.

http://dailycaller.com/2018/05/02/reuters-poll-black-male-approval-for-trump-doubles-in-one-week/


I am now offering a limited number of persuasion consulting sessions if you see the value of learning how to persuade. Contact ParsingPersuasion@gmail.com.