I am a great fan of the Netflix series: House of Cards. Watching evil people at work is somewhat addictive. I wouldn’t advocate behaving like the Underwoods, but there is plenty we can learn from Frank and Claire.
The Underwoods are BRILLIANT at communicating and managing their personal brand. Of course *Spoiler* this has resulted in a young journalist finding herself under a train, but they are personally fabulous at their communication skills.
1. They speak to people. Either face to face or on the phone. They are constantly on the phone or in meetings. I have no doubt that their team are using social media, but they SPEAK to people that matter. There is a scene in series 3 *spoiler* where both Frank and Claire are in a pickle and need support. They are both frantically calling all of their contacts and other decision makers. They know having a personal conversation is likely to be more successful than hiding behind an email.
2. They listen to people; or at least they appear to listen to people; making great eye contact; making the other person feel valued. They know the power of this. Whether or not they take any notice of someone else’s views is another matter.
3. They both know how to ‘schmooze’ and flatter. They are genuine masters at pushing the buttons of other people, by flattery or threats to get other people to do things. When you wish to engage with people, it is always good to focus on their good points and to compliment.
4. They manage their personal brand in public extremely well. Even when they get bad news, they remain confident in public. Frank receiving a message of bad news whilst speaking is managed in a professional way, with the audience oblivious to the news. In these situations they don’t have their hearts on their sleeves; instead they maintain a ‘professional’ persona.
5. Both Frank and Claire manage and modulate their voices well. In series one there is a superb masterclass on how to do this, during a scene between Frank and a Teachers’ Union rep. The latter arrives at the office; his voice is tense and high pitched, revealing his nervousness. Although Frank could be in a pickle, he maintains a low, relaxed voice, speaking slowly. Immediately the union rep was on his back foot. That’s how to do it. Claire learns when she momentarily loses her cool in a meeting with the Senate *Spoiler* that showing her true passion (and cards) is a disastrous move!
I have thoroughly enjoyed House of Cards and in particular the characters of Frank and Claire Underwood. Of course this is fiction and politicians NEVER behave so badly. But there is plenty we can learn from them in a positive way!