As we begin a new congressional session, there is increased pressure to eliminate the gridlock that has become the norm over the past several terms. While there are still major differences in how to best move this country forward, all agree that America's formula for success and leadership is unequaled anywhere in the world: A place where innovation and accomplishment are only limited by the will and determination of its people. Our unique differences are our greatest strength and this country's most illustrious history is yet to be written. This Congress will set the pace for success in all of our national and global challenges.


In that process, it is critical that we maintain mutual respect amongst the leadership. Much of this emanates from how we express and communicate our ideals, and the respect with which we structure critical legislation.

There is a science to communications, which has a neurobiological base, and it focuses on the interpretation of the message by the recipient, and not the intention of the sender. As George Bernard Shaw once said, "The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place." Before we can gain support for an issue, we must first present it in a manner best understood by its target audience. The greatest chance for passage of controversial legislation occurs when all sides feel that their concerns are being addressed. Some worry that bipartisan legislation weakens their position; in reality, it is strengthened by adding relevant dimension, which secures wider support by reducing friction and establishes leadership abilities across the aisle, providing greater influence for future proposals while maintaining the base.

Here are some methods for achieving success in securing approval by the opposition. Its strategy allows for respectful consideration of everyone's views, which may ultimately lead to true bipartisan solutions, establishing a foundation of inclusion. When we open ourselves up to new solutions, we enable the possibility of creative and innovative results. Given the status of our national economy and the instability of world affairs, it is imperative that we consider flexible solutions which adapt to changing circumstance. These ideas will provide a framework for that flexibility.

Focus on common concerns and eliminate reference to party or sponsor

When addressing differences between positions, it is important to focus on common concerns and eliminate reference to party or sponsor, as it is likely that the opposition had once supported the issue and may feel obligated or become defensive of a position they no longer hold.

Include the most significant aspects of the opposing party's position

In order to generate support across party lines, the benefits of each bill must include elements of each party's position. The areas, which cannot be included without significantly affecting the integrity of the bill, must still be acknowledged by incorporating the opposition's language within the solution. The author is then able to guide the opposition toward the proposed solution with minimal conflict, as it also provides "political cover" on controversial issues. Agreement is easier to achieve when both parties feel that all perspectives have been respected.

Include targeted descriptive words in your proposals

Certain words and phrases have an innate emotional connection to each party. In bonding with Republicans, we discover that using motivational words such as patriot, Constitution or freedom spark their interest. For Democrats, words like progressive, equality, entitlement or intellectual create a comfort zone, and generate trust when seeking their support. Remember, "Facts provide information; emotions provide interpretation," as Roger Ailes said.

Understand your audience

The language of each targeted demographic is uniquely designed to create a bond to the information; a rural speech might vastly differ from one delivered to an urban audience on the same topic. Uniquely tailoring a message for ultimate approval includes other considerations, like age (college, career, retired), culture, region, predominant industry, etc., each with their own unique "language" and concerns. And of course, your attire should match that of the audience and venue for connection and congruency. While are all aware of these differences, few actually adapt their proposals to address these varying needs.

When addressing controversial issues, use preprogrammed phrases

Using key buzzwords and talking points will generate a specific "pre-programmed" emotional response to the issue, as one's brain fills in the blanks with whatever impression those particular phrases elicit, even though the actual position may be counter to their original stance. Identifying those sets of words can often make the difference between passage and not. Targeted wording triggers an emotional response, which creates the motivation for specific action — in this case, support for a bill. It also makes all constituents feel included in the process as they incorporate your proposal with their established position.

Create passion

Don't just focus on the technical details and numbers of proposed legislation; generate emotion by highlighting the results of its implementation. The bottom line of any legislation is: "What's in it for me?" If you can connect those answers with a deep emotional need, you will secure passage for any proposed resolution.

For maximum effect, all senses must be included in messaging

While targeted language is of prime consideration, subliminal messaging strategies involve all other senses. The use of body language, gestures, tonality, cadence and even one's clothing will convey a subconscious message, and it all affects potential acceptance. By aligning with the audience, we create congruency and credibility, thus influence towards favorable results.

When feasible, make the presentation multidimensional

Much has been said about learning styles in education; yet those same influences are present in any situation involving the interpretation of new material, i.e., legislation. The strength of incorporating multiple learning styles in the presentation of information increases the understanding and retention rate as well as potential acceptance. Including visual, auditory and kinesthetic approaches to the presentation will increase its likelihood of passage.

In public presentations, be aware of surrounding elements and create the stage

Background sounds, colors, temperature, lighting and scents all create a subconscious impression, which will be connected to your material; you want it to be a positive association. If you are able to set the stage for presentations, study the effect of certain colors on your desired response; for example, red inspires action, while blue is comforting, etc. Perhaps subtle background music might inspire a desired emotion. Even selling freshly baked cookies near the podium provides a familiar scent, which has reassuring associations. Should the lighting be warm to provide reassurance or bright to generate excitement? Approach presentations with the precision of a Hollywood producer, as it is most likely to be captured on TV or YouTube.

Inspire your audience

Whenever possible, reminders that we are all Americans, with similar hopes and dreams for our families and communities, will always be well-received. The American Dream inspires a collective sense of patriotism and hope. Incorporating motivational phrases and historical references, around the technical jargon of legislation, inspires action. People may not understand the details of a particular policy, but they certainly understand how it makes them feel. We remember Presidents Reagan and Kennedy not so much for their legislation, but for how they inspired us as Americans.

These strategies create a bond, which opens the opposition to new possibilities as they are guided towards your desired result. Everyone loves a win-win scenario and you can create it.

Cartier is CEO of Winning Images, specializing in communications, crisis management and bipartisan messaging. Contact her at