The Pursuit of the ultimate prize in Kenyan politics shifts into top gear with aspirants currently maintaining an increasingly gruel, brutal pace. The pursuit of power is a contact sport, rarely pretty and with aspirants meting out hard tackles to each other, voters are presented with an opportunity to discover who among the leading contenders can handle the pressure, still be true to themselves, communicate their Policy’s and connect with them. The aspirants Communication Styles are coming under increased scrutiny and it’s of the essence that all the campaigns learn how to take advantage of their aspirant’s communication strengths and also how to patch up their weaknesses.
Understanding an aspirant’s communication style will also be useful to the campaigns as it is a major factor to consider when selecting a running mate. An aspirant who understands their communication deficiencies will select a running mate who complements them. For example a Direct Communicator who normally possesses very exceptional executive management skills but very poor people skills may require a “ Considerate Communicator” who puts peoples feeling in play, in order to enhance
connection with voters.
we analyze the communication styles of Musalia Mudavadi, Uhuru
Kenyatta and Kalonzo Musyoka.
Musalia Mudavadi comes across as a “Systematic Communicator”, his style finds outward expression when he speaks; he normally makes an even delivery, devoid of colorful language, is very precise and tends to speak in a monotone. He has an almost reluctant demeanor, and is not very expressive meaning he makes great effort to control his emotions and tends to be very private. In the course of my research, the most prominent non-verbal aspect of his communication style was his almost apparent
aversion to touch, he seems to like his personal space and maintains a poker face. It’s quite tough to predict what he is thinking and this could explain why despite the many years he has spent on Kenya’s political scene it’s hard to pin down his political philosophy. His major strength as a systematic Communicator is that he tends to make decisions based on facts, not emotions and will rely greatly on data thereby coming across as excellent problem solver. His “cool” no drama persona is a plus with voters who prefer a levelheaded President.
The downside of his style is that he is averse to risk, can focus too much on details before making a decision “a classical example of paralysis through analysis” and is and because he bottles up his emotions, he can come across as impersonal, lacking in the very vital quality of empathy, crucial in enhancing human connections.
Musalia Mudavadi’s tendency to be private, must be addressed by his campaign, one of the main messages he must communicate is who he is and what he stands for, in essence introduce himself to Kenyans. His stump speech should incorporate personal disclosures and he must avoid speaking in a monotone, add a little vocal variety. He will thrive well in smaller town hall formats, and he must try to loosen up on his controlled movements, by getting closer to people shaking hands, patting backs and the occasional hug. His communication style will not thrive very well in the debates especially when up against the direct communicator and he must get ready to overcome this challenge during the aspirants’ debates.
Uhuru Kenyatta appears to be a “Spirited Communicator”. He tends to speak in an enthusiastic manner and comes across as a friendly person. Because of his lively demeanor he easily generates excitement and has of late excelled in building alliances in turn using those personal relationships to accomplish his objectives. He is highly expressive meaning he will display his emotions and is highly assertive in that he goes to great effort to influence the thoughts and control the actions of others. His communication strengths are that he loves to be around people, he genuinely seems to come alive with crowds, can work at a fast pace and can be quite persuasive on the stump. In interpersonal interactions has an enthusiastic handshake a fact that is not bad for a politician.
The downside of his Communication as evidenced by certain incidences is that he will tend to intensify his verbal behavior at times, especially when riled up and will respond to criticism with verbal attacks at times. He can be a selective listener and may not hear all the details and can be overdramatic, this makes him good for crowds and poor in small groups or meetings. He seems not to love details for details sake, but always wants to understand how it will fit into the bigger picture and this makes him get impatient easily, especially when asked a long winded personal question losing his cool at times.
Uhuru Kenyatta’s campaign needs to develop solid talking points that are big on specifics, to avoid him glossing over important details. Despite the fact that he comes across as passionate, his messages must be structured in a manner that makes him appear as possessing goodwill in order to enhance connection with voters. He must learn how to rein in his emotions especially when under pressure and how to maintain his cool. It would be a plus for him to express humility; a virtue that always endears a person to others. During the Presidential aspirants debate, his opponents will try to irritate him, and if he gets angry they will have him where they want
forcing him to inevitably make some verbal and non-verbal mistakes. His handlers have to prepare him for TV interviews by ensuring his eyes don't appear tired and bloodshot, voters seem to connect more with a “fresh” looking candidate, the campaign would do good to hire a make up artistes and stylists especially for those TV appearances.
Kalonzo Musyoka appears to be a “Considerate Communicator”. He comes across as less assertive, is quite process oriented, deliberate and appears very attentive during interpersonal interactions. When speaking he will generally use supportive language, and works very hard to try and project teamwork, uses a soft tone and projects “patient speech”. Kalonzo at times dithers in making decisions, since he tends to ask others how things should be and will rarely offer his own opinion. His Non-verbal communication comprises slow deliberate movements, a gentle handshake and a clean crisp image.
His strengths are that he comes across as someone who cares about others and seems to possess great consensus building skills and can work very well in a team. The downside of his communication style is that the Mantra of “change” that usually makes for good electioneering messages will not resonate with him since he prefers to do what is comfortable, is averse to conflict and will give in easily. He may at times avoid telling others what they need to hear resulting in tensions that may linger under the surface until he becomes resentful thereby resulting in edgy interactionswith others.
Kalonzo Musyoka needs to learn how to become more assertive, since as a president he will be required to be decisive. In order to build trust with voters, he will need to be more task oriented, passionate, active and confident and his body language during interactions with voters must demonstrate this. His clean crisp image while good at times makes him lose the quality of authenticity, by making him appear “canned” and it wont hurt to give him the “friendly next door neighbor look” at times. He appears reluctant and uncomfortable in large crowds and his campaign would do good to get him into smaller town hall set-ups where he thrives well
and can use his listening skills to an advantage. When inevitably he gets to address large crowds, he must be enthusiastic and spontaneous. His campaign manager needs to devise strategies and messages that will position his as trustworthy, confident and ready to lead.