Political campaigns and need for civil language and effective persuasion

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By Goke Ilesanmi

We are now in the super-active period of electioneering in Nigeria, that is, the volatile period of political or electoral campaigns, beginning with the primary elections of political parties. It is worrisome that the political language, communication or messages of most of the political aspirants and their teeming campaign handlers and supporters during the primary elections and even now that some of the aspirants have emerged as candidates of their political parties readily show gross professional incompetence or ignorance.

Instead of focusing on articulation of manifestos and issue-based campaigns, they focus on defamation or marketing of other candidates. Why this extreme desperation for defamation of other candidates if the major political goal is to serve the people and not for any ulterior motive?

Even in business where temptation for demarketing is naturally supposed to be high because it (business) is basically about investment of resources, profitability and struggle for market dominance, the modern language of competition is now “Cooperation and Competition” blended into a new word, a neologism tagged “Coopetition”. That means “BUSINESS IS NO LONGER WAR” contrary to the old concept of “BUSINESS IS WAR” promoted by Gore Vidal.

So, politics that is more about service to the people is not supposed to stimulate so much desperation and demarketing at all if the major goal of the candidates and their supporters is to serve the people.

But political campaign handlers and supporters ignorantly overheat the polity, especially the social media space daily and create more enemies for the candidates they want to market or sell as they predominantly dwell on demarketing or defamation of other candidates all in an ignorant bid to sell theirs to the electorate. Rule five of general persuasion says “focus on what is relevant to your audience”. I am sure the electorate will be more interested in how candidates want to better their lives as captured in the manifestos than concentration on defamation of other candidates.

It is possible to professionally apply SWOT Analysis to the manifestos of other candidates and use that strategy to effectively market or sell your candidate without mentioning, demarketing or defaming other candidates. That is, as campaign handlers or supporters, you can professionally scrutinise the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) of the manifestos of other candidates and tell the electorate that your candidate will do better things without actually referring to other candidates or their manifestos. That is, impersonal and mature communication. For instance, if other candidates promise to create two million jobs per year, you can persuasively say your candidate will create four million jobs without referring to what other candidates promise to do. That is, maturity of persuasion.

Politicians and their campaign handlers need to master political language, persuasion and communication skills because they must be able to convince the electorate and even win opposition over during electoral campaigns so that they (the electorate) can vote for them.

There is need to break the barrier of primitive persuasion and embrace application of effective persuasion if we must move forward as a nation, as individuals, organisations, etc. This is because persuasion is key to social harmony.

Persuasion is simply about convincing other people. It is noteworthy that after the unimpressive performance at the end of the end of 2015 general elections, a major opposition political party took stock of its electoral fortunes and admitted that, among other things, the intensity of its hate campaigns (primitive persuasion) accounted for its misfortune at the poll. The party ignorantly did massive INDIRECT campaigns for the party in power now all in a fruitless attempt to discredit its presidential and other candidates. But it was counterproductive eventually. Almost all political parties, candidates, campaign handlers and supporters are guilty of hate campaigns one way or another now.

One major reason for the prevalence of this communication barbarity in Nigeria is ignorance about political persuasion and presentation skills. That is why most of our politicians, campaign handlers and supporters abandon articulation or sale of manifestos and focus on frivolities like character assassination of other candidates. They continue in this crossfire of meaningless smear campaigns because there is demand for such by the electorate, probably due to ignorance and poverty which prevent them from demanding issue-based campaigns.

Most times, demarketing or hate campaigns backfire because they can make candidates you want to rubbish more popular. Such hate campaigns are like indirect campaigns for such candidates and your continuous de-marketing can elicit sympathy in the electorate for such candidates, especially if they (the candidates) ignore your defamation. As a politician, you can outshine more brilliant but less articulate co-contestants if you are trained in the skills of political language, persuasion and communication. You need the skills of effective political persuasion and communication to succeed because you must be able to convince the electorate and even win opposition over during electoral campaigns so that people can vote for you.


Need for political persuasion training

Politicians and their campaign handlers need to attend a political language, persuasion and presentation skills course and learn concepts and skills such as:

(1) Creative Political Campaign Strategies.

(2) Types of Political Messages and Strategic Situational Application.

(3) Application of Comparative Messages in Political Campaigns/Speeches or Brilliant Application of SWOT Analysis for Impersonal Reference to Opponents.

(4) Professional Reaction to Opponents’ Malicious (Verbal) Attacks during Political Campaigns/Speeches.

(5) How to Concentrate on Manifesto and Discard Defamation/De-marketing.

(6) Employment of Purpose Ladder Sequence for Practical Persuasion.

(7) Enhancement of Political Speeches with Persuasive Headings.

(8) Employment of Digital Tools/Social Media Platforms and Other Media for Impacts.

To be continued

 PS: For those making inquiries about our Public Speaking, Business Presentation and Professional Writing Skills programme, please visit the website indicated on this page for details.

GOKE ILESANMI (FIIM, FIMC, CMC), CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker, Career Mgt Coach and Certified Mgt Consultant. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant. Tel: 08056030424; 08055068773; 08187499425

Email: gokeiles2010@gmail.com

Website: www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng

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