Influencers from Around the World – Essentials for Political Personalities

This month’s Influencers from Around the World post is from my friend Yago De Marta. Yago resides in Spain and Latin America where he makes a living as a public speaking coach and media trainer. Like my other guest bloggers, we met because of his interest in influence and persuasion. Much of Yago’s work is with politicians (and businessmen) so his article explores two essential influence ingredients for politicians – authority and liking. Shoot a friend request to Yago on Facebook or LinkedIn, let him know you read his article and I’m sure he’ll accept.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Essentials for Political Personalities

When I train politicians I always repeat the same idea: the politician must be close enough to their voters that they trust him, and yet different enough so as to be considered able to do things the voter never could.

This means the politician must tap into similarities so they can identify with voters. Doing so allows the politician to “tune in” with them so the people sense their reflection, or “their way,” in the image they see projected on television. But the truth is that’s not enough. Clearly, we have great confidence in our best friend, yet we don’t let him take charge of our family finances or give a medical diagnosis for cancer for a loved one. That is, liking is not enough without the authority.

In the case of the politician this duality is even bigger. Everyone is looking for a candidate who is “special,” and it’s this special status that seems to be closely tied to political roles. Unfortunately it seems to be a scarce quality these days. Politicians are viewed differently because if the politician is going to govern the destiny of a country we must believe he’s able to do things we cannot.

Now if these two elements, liking and authority, must be linked to the personality of the politician, and both have different aspects, how are we to relate to them from a practical perspective on the personality of the politician? There are several ways but in this article we will focus on two: stylistic and internal.

Stylistic: A common mistake most novice speakers make is that they change completely when they speak from behind a lectern. All of a sudden they create a pose. They lose their original personality because they begin to talk in an artificial way. This error is very serious because the most important quality of liking in communication is “being real.”

There are two main styles: the systematic and casual. The systematic is normally observed in parliaments. It is characterized by very marked time, a major impact on certain syllables of words and a repetitive rhythm whereas the casual style is more conversational.

Casual is simply “telling” what we mean. My advice to politicians is simply this; go back to basics and be real. When behind the podium one must remember to talk as we talk in a cafe. The first style gives us strength, control, presence. It gives us authority. The second gives us fluency, closeness, credibility. All of a sudden we tap into liking and are likable.

Communicating well from the bench means being able to move on the continuum between the systematic and casual, between authority and liking. If we only rely on one, we can come across as robotic or worse yet, uneducated.

The second aspect we want to explore is the internal. Another common mistake of politicians is ego. I believe a big ego is the opposite of high self-esteem. Big egos can make the candidate come across as brittle and seem distant from the audience.

Remembering Gallway and “The Inner Game,” the player must be “in the zone” and focused. To be in the zone in politics, or in public speaking in general, means being strong and very secure. This implies feeling special, to feel that no one can say things the way we say them. This routine occurs in the mind; a state of force that allows for a very strong speech.

This attitude gives the necessary distance from political environment to create the authority. I often say that if that does not mean being proud. If we are focused, no. What is the focus? People. The politician, and really every speaker, should focus on people. You must look at people and think about the people. This attitude spiritually and emotionally binds you with the public. It’s the reason and motivation for the speech. It allows you to feel safe and absolutely connected with the public. This connection causes liking. It dilutes the ego in the mass communication to make something superior. And communicating well from the bench is being able to move on the continuum between “the zone” and “focused” tapping into both authority and liking. If we only rely on one, or the other, we may be seen as a tyrant or a weakling.


Note to readers: We may not be politicians but in certain areas of life, such as our careers, we need to effectively tap into both authority and liking if we’re to enjoy success to the fullest, because being liked, trusted and viewed as a expert is what will give you the best chance of hearing “Yes” when you make a request of another person.

2 replies
  1. Anthony McLean
    Anthony McLean says:

    Hi Brian & Yago. I am sure this is playing out all over the world on a daily basis. In Australia we have an interesting battle taking place. Our Prime Minister was elected on Contrast from the former PM. He played on Liking early which saw him as "the country lad made good" and his approval rating was above 70 points. He then had to establish Authority having been in opposition for 11yrs and deliver on political promises from the election. After a number of unpopular decisions, backflips on policy, failed programs and public gaffs the current PM's Authority has never been lower – as his approval rating dropping below 45 points a massive turn around in 2 years. Under pressure the PM has dropped into a systematic style and talking down to some constituents further eroding his Liking. So Yago your linkages between Liking and Authority are nightly consumption for the Australian public at present. It worth noting that the most effective Authority is one that possesses expertise and trustworthiness. Our PM has lost ground in both. The only up side for him is the opposition leader uses an the internal style where he is prone to error and while unlikeable for some is seen as too much of a risk for others. Great article. Anthony McLean (CMCT) Australia

  2. Yago de Marta
    Yago de Marta says:

    Hi Anthony,
    I agree, obviously Liking and Authority are nothing without a good govern. Political communication is nothing without good politics.
    When the politician is a "candidate" both qualities (liking and authority) are more inportant than when the politician became a president (for example). Suddenly, his image is less effective because voters ask for "their" jobs or airports…
    I don't know Australian politics but to drop in a systematic style in this context forgeting casual style is a bad idea if he has to mantain his position for a long term…
    Thank you for your comment!!!


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