News flash: things continue to be “not-so-great” with the economy. Friday’s unemployment figures, described by “dismal” as many observers, caused the markets to fall precipitously. My investment advisor says, “this is a great time to buy: so many bargains!” That’s a very difficult perspective to take as you watch your retirement income go from “chic small condo in a retirement community” to “trailer park” in the course of a day.
Clearly those running the political campaigns see our economic situation as an opportunity to attack the other side. President Obama seeks to paint his opponent as one of the job-cutting “corporate raiders” whose actions led in part to the recession. Mr. Romney seeks to paint his opponent as an incompetent bureaucrat who is unable to solve the problem. The truth is, as former-President Bill Clinton recently pointed out, neither can be dismissed as completely unqualified and, given the neck and neck polls, this strategy isn’t working.
An interesting Washington Post article titled “Jobs numbers remind Obama that he must do more than attack” makes this point. Dan Balz, the author, reminds us that successful influencers do not rely on attacking their opponent for getting to yes.
A better strategy is to base your arguments on your opponents’ fundamental weaknesses. There’s an entire chapter in The Influence Game dedicated to knowing your competition, which you can achieve by conducting extensive opposition research, knowing exactly what it is you’re competing for (it’s not always what you think) and perhaps more important, researching yourself as if you WERE the opposition.