Well. The world didn’t end last week.
In the midst of a bazillion armchair commentators commenting on the strangest election ever (doesn’t it just feel like you’re in a cartoon this year? Just me?) I’m more interested in why America now has a president elect who’s a misogynistic, narcissistic, orange guineapig.
I was thinking about this the other night, because there are some parallels to what happened in the UK with Brexit.
There’s shouting and accusations on both sides, but there’s one common theme that’s running through the whole lot: zero attempt to actually listen to each other.
See, the vast, vast majority of Trump voters were rural. And a very quick look at some stats shows a similar pattern in the UK: leavers tend to be rural, remainers tend to be urban.
We’re not townies, Joe and I; but we’re not country folk either. And, while we’ve been made welcome in our village, it’s patently obvious we’re not from round ‘ere. We’re learning about rural life, but we just don’t get it. Not like people born and brought up here. Our ways – the ways of city dwellers and more urban people – are strange to them. They genuinely are.
I’m not calling the rural people yokels; they’re not. Not really. But they do have different concerns, different priorities, and a totally different way of life.
Like, totally different.
A way of life that’s being destroyed before their eyes.
Of course, it’s not really being destroyed; it’s simply the world changing, sometimes a little too fast for comfort. But in the eyes of people who live here, it is being destroyed.
And that’s the point.
We don’t understand that. We smile patronisingly, we sneer at the continuing focus on religion, we say things like, “how quaint!” and rail against perceived intolerance – but we don’t stop to think why. And we don’t accept that their feelings and concerns are valid (because they are).
We don’t ask questions. We just make assumptions.
Everyone who voted remain shouts about how ignorant and racist the Brexiters are (this mostly isn’t true). Everyone who voted leave shouts about how the leavers are all elitist liberal wankers and want to take away “sovreignty” and hand over the country to endless immigrants (this mostly isn’t true).
But what very few people do is really think about why this stuff happens in the first place. Instead of wringing our hands and saying what’s to become of the world, and slagging off people who disagree with us, we need to look at the feelings and sentiments of people who feel they don’t have a voice. The people whose way of life is being eroded and whose only recourse, when it seems nobody will listen, is to chuck a rock through the windows of those in power.
And thus we have Trump and Brexit.
But maybe the whole lot will pleasantly surprise us.
What’s my point? My point isn’t a political commentary on the state of the world (although I’m sure I’ll have pissed off some people with my musings). My point is that you can’t hope to ever change anything – the status quo, establishment, or your customers’ minds – until you’ve shown you understand them and have built some empathy.
Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before judging. Or, more pertinently for this daily email, before selling to them. You’ll get better results; that, I promise you.
Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.
PS In other news, I found this amazing artist on the internets. He takes the everyday world and creates something spectacular. His art doesn’t last, except in photographs (like the one above)… but just look at it.