By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has picked his preferred insult for fellow GOP hopeful Jeb Bush. On at least six occasions over the past few days, the Donald has referred to the Jeb as a "low-energy person." He doesn't have strength, passion, or enthusiasm, Trump says, at least not so much that we would ever get away with calling him “the Jeb.” It’s clever politics: Trump’s way of turning Bush’s comparative calm and maturity into a point against him. I have no criticism of Jeb Bush’s style, but Trump’s use of “low energy” as an insult reflects an underlying reality about credibility. One of the basic psychological factors in determining credibility is dynamism (the other principle factors are competence, honesty, and similarity). Communicators who are able to convey or to be associated with change and activity – dynamism -- aren’t just better able to gain attention, they’re also more likely to be believed and trusted.
Now, before anyone jumps to any conclusions, this isn’t an endorsement (Persuasive Litigator doesn’t make endorsements) and it isn’t a claim that Trump is or isn't broadly trusted. But he does have one thing going for him: He isn’t a low-energy person. The combination of his personal style, his political goals, and the current sociocultural milieau have created a situation where Trump seems to be the most dynamic communicator in the room. The advantages of being dynamic and high energy translate to courtroom communications as well. In this post, I’ll take a look at the benefits of communication dynamism, and will also share some thoughts on the stylistic and substantive ways speakers can increase their own dynamism.