Donald Trump’s Lack of Emotional Intelligence

And Why This Spells Big Trouble for Our Nation.


Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore

This is not a politically motivated post … it is about human decency, Civil Rights and treating one another with respect and tolerance. My Emotional Intelligence certification, marketing experience and fair housing background from my many years in the multifamily housing industry have me looking at this candidacy from a variety of angles.

I am no longer associated with a political party so that I may vote for candidates and issues of my choosing. There are things on each side of the fence that make sense to me, so not aligning with either side finally seemed to be the best fit for me (unfortunately, independent voters are not allowed to vote in primary elections in some states, yet interestingly Gallup reports that as of January 2015 a new record of 43% of voters in the U.S. are political independents — is it time for that primary election process to be updated, given those numbers?).

Even when registered with a party, I voted for the candidate I felt would make the best decisions for issues that were most important to me. As such, I would like to see Congress be more bi-partisan in their actions in order to accomplish more things for our citizens as opposed to meeting the goals of big money and huge corporations that push their own agenda and money into politics via PACs and SuperPACs. Too much money in politics does not encourage politicians to vote on behalf of the people. I believe this is how both Trump and Sanders are working to differentiate themselves, by attempting to buck the system. I agree … it could use a little bucking!

As I consider all of the candidates for the upcoming Presidential election, I find one thing continues to stand out to me that genuinely concerns me as he maintains a level of popularity among a sizable group of voters: Donald Trump has a blatantly obvious lack of Emotional Intelligence, yet he continues to maintain his numbers. His Self-Management and Relationship Management skills are horrendous and, in my opinion, have the potential to be very dangerous to our country and to our foreign policy efforts. So why have people been flocking to him?

What’s the Draw?

“The Donald” definitely has name recognition. He truly can be entertaining. Watching him in reality actually reminds me of watching an SNL version of him, only it is actually real – it’s him! He is like a caricature of himself. Sometimes he really can be funny, although oftentimes he will use targeted, demeaning humor to make fun of and attack his rivals personally (as opposed to attacking their politics), including pointing out what he perceives as flaws in their physical characteristics, looks, etc. This, friends, is what we refer to as “bullying.”

The idea of having someone as President of the United States of America who pointedly makes fun of other people is not someone who would be a good role model for our youth – we already have enough problems with bullying in schools without them witnessing it from leaders they should be looking to as an example.

Many people are drawn to Trump because he has had success in business. I understand that, as I have often thought it would be good to have a successful businessman at the helm who was not tied to the corporate interests of America. Some of his supporters like that he will speak his mind and he doesn’t sugar coat things. Being frank is one thing; being rude, arrogant and condescending is another.

“I’m going to make America great again,” he boasts in his typically braggadocios manner. I happen to think America is already pretty great, yet of course there are many things our elected officials could always work together better on to improve. I am actually in line with him when he talks about jobs being taken out of the United States that could or should be done here – we have a lot of people here who need work – and we obviously do have to get our illegal immigration issues under control.

When I look at things from a marketing perspective, I am very mindful of the fact that Trump is always selling himself and his brand. He has spent years and years building the Trump brand (I have even wondered if this campaign weren’t just about furthering that goal). I have stayed at Trump Tower in New York City, and it was indeed a fantastic stay. He definitely has the branding aspect down. I also believe in the power of real estate, which is part of his business that attracts many.

What’s the Problem?

What we have seen many times through this campaign process, however, is that while he is building himself and his brand up, he is often tearing someone else down with personal attacks and insults in the process. What is particularly of concern to me is that when these verbal assaults are directed at a specific group of people, he is inciting hate and bigotry across the United States.

“These aren’t the best and the finest,” Trump said about people coming over from Mexico. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

We do have a problem with illegal immigration. But we also have a plethora of wonderful, hard working individuals from other countries who are diligently trying to LEGALLY immigrate to the United States, which happens to include many truly “good people” from Mexico. I have had friends from Mexico, Great Britain, New Zealand and France detail for me the immigration process they went through, including the interviews and many dollars involved (it’s expensive to get legal assistance in that process!), and I have watched these people do things the right way. Trump belittles these people and others like them when he categorizes immigrants as “problems.”

What does it feel like to be a Mexican American (someone born or living in the United States as a U.S. citizen who happens to be of Hispanic heritage; a child of immigrants from recent generations) and hear this type of messaging from Trump about Mexican immigrants? People were very upset after hearing Trump’s speech. A 24-year old named Carmen posted a video in responsecomforted by the actions her mom took in giving her actual facts about immigrants. She cited that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than those who are native born Americans, and that immigrants start small businesses at more than twice the rate as those who are U.S. born.

Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor of California, put together a video detailing the costs involved in Trump’s plans to deal with illegal immigrants via deportation, including estimates from a Conservative think tank saying that it would cost our nation over $400 Billion. He says that subsequent loss of half of our farm workers and 6% of our work force would set our economy into a downward spiral, ultimately costing our economy over $1.6 Trillion and putting us in a place worse than the Great Recession. When putting it into Trump-like language, Newsom said, “His plan is a loser.”

The Outcome of Negative Rhetoric

When Trump makes sweeping negative statements about an entire nationality or religion, such as when he said all Muslim travel should be banned and no Muslims should be allowed to enter our nation, it goes against the very principles that formed our nation. We are, after all, a nation formed of immigrants. Many of our Muslim Americans (U.S. citizens who happen to practice the religion of Islam, per our country’s freedom to practice the religion of our choice) have relatives out of the country. Such negative, targeted statements that are all-encompassing demean everyone in the group he is addressing, despite the fact that the people he is really targeting in this situation are those Islam extremists who are terrorists. This is certainly not all Muslims, and demands like this incite fear within our Muslim American communities and can create bullying situations against young Muslim American children as well.

When Oprah Winfrey asked Malala Yousafzai – author of I Am Malala, focus of the documentary He Named Me Malala, and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner at age 17 for advocating for all students to have the right to education (she was shot in the face by the Taliban in 2012 in Pakistan for speaking up for girls’ right to education) – on OWN’s Super Soul Sunday what it meant to her to be a Muslim woman, she replied, “For me, being Muslim means to be peaceful. To be kind, to always think about others, and to always think that how the one action you take can affect other people’s life.”

She believes the characteristic of Islam which she tries to embody is peace. Making broad statements that lump everyone of a certain nationality, race, religion, etc. encourages a hateful rhetoric across the nation and incites bad treatment among some of his followers against people in those groups, as we have seen evidenced at some of his rallies.

After insulting a group, you’ll later find him saying they are “tremendous people” and he has a “great relationship” with them, perhaps trying to gloss over his prior negative statements. But it doesn’t negate what was said, and he doesn’t apologize. He easily calls people stupid, then says he gets along with everyone. Not only has he spoken badly of Mexicans and defamed Muslims, he has also offended women, reporters, breastfeeding mothers, overweight people,and handicapped individuals among others … I had a friend tell me just yesterday that she paid to attend a conference 10 years ago where Trump was speaking, and walked out because his statements were so condescending toward women.

I teach Fair Housing within the multifamily industry, and cover the history of housing discrimination in my leasing training classes, discussing how important it is for people from all backgrounds to be welcomed into a community. We have come a long way since the Civil Rights movement, yet race continues to be an incendiary issue. This is evidenced by attempts in recent years to show a systemic race problem, including how prevalent instances of police misconduct have been against African Americans with the rise of the #blacklivesmatter campaign. So when the former head of the Ku Klux Klan endorses Trump, you have to realize we have a reason to be concerned as he encourages his followers to join forces with Trump’s supporters.

“Go in there, you’re gonna meet people who are going to have the same kind of mindset that you have,” Duke said Wednesday on the David Duke Radio Program, as first reported by Buzzfeed, reasoning that “voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage.”

Houston, we SERIOUSLY have a problem here!!

Some of the Disparities

After Trump won three states on Super Tuesday, John Oliver of Last Week Tonight took on the many disparities of Donald Trump and his campaign – if you want an amusing yet informative look at these, turn up the volume and check out John’s take on things (warning – some adult language included). In this, he takes a closer look at people’s reasons for supporting him: 1. He tells it like it is … yet evidence show he has made frequent opposite statements or untruths; 2. He is independent, has financed his campaign and is not financially beholden to anyone … yet he has not personally spent $20-25 million – he has loaned himself $17.5 million in campaign funds, which can be paid back by the campaign, and he has received $7.5 million in individual contributions. 3. He’s tough … yet has to try to show that he’s right when he is sensitive about something. 4. His success … while he has made a lot of money, he has also lost a huge amount with his multiple bankruptcies.

He also is sue-happy. Oliver shows that during a deposition, Trump explained that his net worth changes based on his feelings. That tells me that his EQ (or lack thereof) is part of what has gotten him in financial trouble in the past. I think it’s safe to say that the same thing could happen if he were dealing with our country’s budget.

EQ Skills and Policy Issues

You’ll often see Trump in an interview situation where he will reply to someone making a point, “You’re wrong,” continually interrupting the person in order to prove he is right. During these frequent interruptions, he will at least occasionally say “Excuse me – excuse me” as he interrupts several times in a row … yet the point is that he is frequently interrupting, which means he is not present in the moment or the conversation. This means he is not truly listening to the other person. He is thinking of how he can respond so that he can be right or position himself in the best possible light. This shows very poor Relationship Management skills, which is definitely a concern for me when I think about his potential involvement in foreign policy matters and interaction with other world leaders.

An election really should come down to policy matters and running the country. If you look at the Republican debate that happened on FOX March 3, 2016, it was a bit of a circus. To weigh in on where candidates stood with regard to policy issues, Donald Trump scored second lowest in discussion about economic policy, and was lowest with regard to both foreign policy and domestic policy, according to Bloomberg. John Kasich was actually the candidate that turned in really solid numbers for all three areas that night. It is unsettling how much Trump doesn’t address with regard to actual policy matters. Feeling confident in a potential candidate should involve that candidate having a wide range of knowledge and plans for all of these areas.

What is Needed

Basically, here’s the deal for me … When I think of who I want as Commander-in-Chief for our country, it is someone I would feel confident could handle himself/herself well in Foreign Policy negotiations; someone who will thoughtfully consider and weigh options prior to making an incredibly difficult decision; someone whose behavior toward others will be a good role model for young children and our nation; someone who will be inclusive, not divisive; and someone who treats others with respect and dignity, even when there is disagreement on the table.

Most importantly though, it essentially boils down to what President Obama stated at a recent press conference. He said he voters will be looking at, “Whoever’s standing where I’m standing right now has the nuclear codes with them, and can order 21 year-olds into a firefight.”

A sobering thought. I want someone who will remain cool-headed with access to that little red button. The President of the United States of America should not be someone who will be impetuous and reactive to situations or conversation. It should not be someone who has a lack of Self-Management skills and treats people unkindly through actions or words.


Trump is so focused on “Winning” … I have a hard time thinking a Presidential candidate is using the same little slogan first brought to light by Charlie Sheen (who, granted, I loved in high school prior to his travels down the prodigal path – come on, it was when he was in Lucas!), given his downturn in recent years. What is both amusing and terrifying is that if you really listen closely in this video, you can really grasp how Trump’s rhetoric sounds like he could actually be your drunk neighbor.

This is the most important job in our nation. It is not a reality TV show. Since Trump gets so much joy from doing it to others, I think it’s about time we tell him, “You’re Fired!”

If a group of 5th graders see things so clearly, why can’t everyone?


(PS – I apologize for my long absence in posting. Ironically, I have been learning about real estate investing. And, no, I will not be running for President once I am controlling my own properties. But I promise to post more frequently again! Thanks for your patience with my absence. I am grateful to The Donald for getting me back to writing!)


Valerie M. Sargent is a dynamic speaker, trainer, consultant and executive coach. A natural and engaging motivator, Valerie is a Level I and Level II TalentSmart Emotional Intelligence Certified Trainer and President of Yvette Poole & Associates. She helps individuals and organizations increase their EQ, managing emotions and relationships better on the job for maximum performance. Her signature message, “It’s in the Pause”® focuses on the need for Self-Management skills to preserve positive relationships in the workplace and beyond – follow her blog: For more information:  or