THE BLOG

Stop Whining, You Irresponsible Ninnies!

10/04/2010 07:15 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

So how do you feel when someone talks to you like that? Highly motivated to run right out and vote for them?

There's some serious psychological malpractice going on in the White House.

The President is trying to motivate his Democratic base by wagging a parental finger at them for their apathy and disappointment, using loaded words like "irresponsible." The Vice President is sounding equally parental: "Stop whining!"

This is really ineffective communication technique -- the words and tone sound like everyone's bossy Bad Dad or Bad Boss. And this plays especially poorly with women, who are very sensitive to this kind of patriarchal tone -- and are reportedly abandoning the Democrats in alarming numbers.

In contrast, look back to the master Democratic communicator Bill Clinton, who was famously mocked for his more "feminine" style of communication - "I feel your pain."

Easy to laugh at this, but let's face it: over 50 years of psychological research have found that people respond better to "active listening" than to scolding. If you want people to do something, LISTEN to them first and acknowledge their feelings and concerns before you start telling them what you want them to do.

I guess both Obama or Biden missed those Psych 101 classes in college.

But here's the short course for them: ordering your erstwhile supporters around or calling them names in an authoritarian voice is just plain lousy motivation technique.

And a warning: if they keep it up, the only people this communications style will help is the Republicans.

For more info...
Politico, "Joe Biden to Dems: Stop Whining" by Glenn Thrush
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0910/42789.html