Years ago I learned a sequence to follow when giving things to people.
First, you must give a person what they expect.
Then you can give them what they want.
Finally, you can give them what they need.
Sadly, I almost always stumble on expect, but the few times I’ve followed this script have been magical experiences. The sequence works!
So, back in 2016 I watched the third Trump/Hillary debate and noticed something.
Hillary fluently spoke a dialect of English I dubbed “Standard American Politician” (SAP).
Trump did not.
What is SAP?
Listen to the sound of, “That’s an important issue, Ralph. We have laid out a comprehensive plan to move America forward on that issue.”
Notice it’s not just any old plan, it’s a comprehensive plan. SAP has a unique set of buzzwords with idiosyncratic meanings.
Notice the politician has told you this “issue” is, um, not a priority, but they are ready to trot something out in case the issue ever bubbles up during a campaign. You understand that meaning because you understand SAP.
SAP allows a politician to state things in a way that makes it difficult for others to miss-spin meaning.
And SAP also makes it easy to, ah, add nuance when the politician’s position “evolves”.
Is that the end of it?
No, the sequence of expect/want/need comes in play here.
Most people expect politicians to speak Standard American English. The higher the office, the more fluent the politician. If a politician does not speak SAP, then expect-people will miss a beat when they first hear the politician, but will get the message that this politician is running an outsider campaign. So. … Nothing of note.
Many people want their politicians to speak SAP. This makes sense. SAP has evolved to match its use. Meaning is more easily gleaned from SAP words. Etc. If a politician does not speak SAP, want-people will miss a beat, but will adjust as they might adjust to someone who speaks non-native English.
And, finally, some people need their politicians to speak SAP.
With that observation, in an instant, I understood a common, gut-level reaction to Trump.
Wow, what a simple framework. It feels right to me.
How did you come up with it? And what was one of those magical experiences when it worked?
The original expect/want/need? I don’t know. Minimum of 25 years ago. Probably just noticed being on the wrong foot and it only made sense if what I’d said had been unexpected – which it was.
Want and Need come up on any design process when you’re putting together something that’s never existed. So they would have just dropped in place once Expect was identified.