The Hidden Triggers behind Trump’s Language and Behaviour

The Inauguration Speech and First Week in Office – Predicting Trump’s Behaviour

Donald Trump has made his first address and had his first week in office. People everywhere have been commenting, lamenting, protesting and some defending. (My Facebook news feed is full of this, including pleading from some to have a respectful conversation about it all.)

Once again I thought it might be interesting to see which LAB Profile® Triggers were behind his  speech, analysed by my patented Libretta® software. (

And I also identified the Motivation Triggers™ behind his actions in his first week as president.

The three triggers Libretta® identified in President Trump’s speech were:

Toward Motivation Trigger™

People who are in a Toward mode are focusing on what they want and their goals. They want to achieve something and focus on where they are heading. (Libretta® doesn’t specify how precise someone’s goal is, only whether she or he is focused on moving toward something she or he wants.)

Away From Motivation Trigger™

When people are in an Away From mode, they pay attention to what is wrong or should be prevented and avoided. They are motivated to get away from the things that bother them.

Internal Motivation Trigger™

People who are in Internal mode are deciding for themselves, based on what is important to them. They tend to reject ideas when told what to do.

Here is the transcript with the Motivation Triggers™ listed by section. I divided the text up, creating different sections based on themes in order to identify the different Motivation Triggers™ as the theme changed. After the text, I will make some commentary.

Transcript with Motivation Triggers™
(If you don’t wish to read the text of the speech, you can scroll down to the analysis.)

TRUMP: Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans and people of the world, thank you. (APPLAUSE)

We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people. (APPLAUSE)

Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come. We will face challenges, we will confront hardships, but we will get the job done.

Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent. Thank you. (APPLAUSE)

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people. (APPLAUSE)

For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. (APPLAUSE)

That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment, it belongs to you. (APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country. (APPLAUSE)

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. (APPLAUSE)

January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. (APPLAUSE)

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. (APPLAUSE)

Everyone is listening to you now. You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before. (APPLAUSE)

At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public.

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now. (APPLAUSE)

We are one nation and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams. And their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny. The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans. (APPLAUSE)

For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military. We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own. (APPLAUSE)

And spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.
NO PARTICULAR TRIGGER IS DOMINANT (Note: I tried dividing this section into smaller parts, but each paragraph revealed no dominant pattern in the language structure.)

Trump: One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.

But that is the past. And now, we are looking only to the future. (APPLAUSE)

We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first. (APPLAUSE)

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body and I will never ever let you down. (APPLAUSE)

America will start winning again, winning like never before. (APPLAUSE)

We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams. (APPLAUSE)

We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation. We will get our people off of welfare and back to work, rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor. (APPLAUSE)

We will follow two simple rules; buy American and hire American. (APPLAUSE)

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow. (APPLAUSE)

We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth. (APPLAUSE)

At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. (APPLAUSE)

The bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. (APPLAUSE)

There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God. (APPLAUSE)

Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving. We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action, constantly complaining, but never doing anything about it. (APPLAUSE)

The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action. (APPLAUSE)

Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America. We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow. A new national pride will stir ourselves, lift our sights and heal our divisions.

It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots. (APPLAUSE)

We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms and we all salute the same great American flag. (APPLAUSE)

And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the wind-swept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they will their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator. (APPLAUSE)

So to all Americans in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words. You will never be ignored again. (APPLAUSE)

Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

Together, we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And yes, together we will make America great again. (APPLAUSE)

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America.
Thank you.
God bless America.


In this speech, Donald Trump talked about what he is against, what he will move the country Away From. But his language structure also indicates what he wants to go Toward – America first, America first.

This is quite different than the ratio of Triggers in the first presidential debate, (which I analysed in another blog), possibly indicating that the actual text here was mainly written by other people. Naturally! In this address, there is proportionally, significantly more focus on Toward, than what he has done at other times. In the debates he used mainly Away From and Internal with very little Toward.

This is to be expected, as one hopes a first speech to be more inspirational and aspirational. Comparing the level of grammar and vocabulary used between this speech and the debate, there is also a difference (this speech there were more sophisticated use of grammar and vocabulary), but other software can evaluate this much more objectively.

Compared to the debates and his many “off the cuff” campaign speeches, which focused on what was wrong with America, this one set out the principles to which he is moving Toward.

Buy American and hire American.” “… only America first, America first.”

But what about the Motivation Triggers™ driving his actions?

Already in his first week, he signed executive orders to start the removal of the Affordable Health Care Act, revived the Keystone XL Oil Pipeline, closed immigration to Syrian refugees and started the process to build a wall between the US and Mexico.

He has also produced numerous Tweets defending himself and attacking others as @realDonaldTrump and not as @POTUS (President of the US). Although the Libretta® software does not identify all of the LAB Profile® Motivation Triggers™, we can look at the behaviours of a person to understand the combination of triggers driving someone’s actions.

His first week actions and communications appear to have the following Motivation Trigger™ combination:

Proactive – need to act without thinking
Away From – Motivated to move away from what you don’t like
External – Cares deeply about the opinions of others, reputation, influenced by outside sources
Feelings – In stressful situations, gets into a negative emotional state and stays stuck in the emotion
My/. – My rules for me/I don’t care about anyone else
Automatic Convincer – gathers a small chunk of information and decides immediately, unlikely to change his mind

When people have this combination of Triggers, they are likely to:

  • As soon as they see/hear/feel criticized or slighted in any way, they will immediately counterattack without thinking their actions through(Away From, External, Proactive, Feelings, Automatic)
  • They will continue the counterattack because they continue to feel the negative emotions associated with the criticism (Feelings, External)
  • Even if the counter-attack is considered inappropriate by others, it doesn’t matter since “the rules” in society don’t apply to them. (My/.)

Look and sound familiar?

I suspect that compared to the parts of the inauguration speech that were Toward, the above behaviours will be more typical President Donald Trump.

What do you think? Please leave a reply.

30 thoughts on “The Hidden Triggers behind Trump’s Language and Behaviour

  1. Anita Hamilton

    Thinking of your great book Words That Change Minds and as I look at the motivations of folks who align themselves with political parties in Canada/the US, the very definition of Conservative (Republican in US) is a person who is averse (AWAY) to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, while the definition of Liberal (Democrats in US) is open (TOWARDS) to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard (AWAY) traditional values. Would you agree with this assessment?
    And wondering if when it comes to the folks who seem to be anti’s (anti-muslim, anti-immigration, anti-income assistance programs, anti-healthcare programs) if a focus on AWAY & INTERNAL verbiage has the best potential for shifting their perspective?

  2. Don Ayers

    Nice analysis. Does it matter that Mr. Trump did not write the speech?

    I would suggest the spontaneous 70+ minute press conference as a more accurate idea of the President’s patterns and reactions than what is read from a TelePrompTer.

    1. suCeSS Post author

      Hi Don, Thanks for your comment. I analysed the speech – I would assume he approved, since he managed to read it. Your idea is great – to analyse that press conference. I will check if there is a transcript. Cheers, Shelle

  3. Dean Halfacre

    In some respects comforting to see an analysis that shows the man as dysfunctional perhaps, but not necessarily pathologically deranged. It strikes me that once the real professionals of global diplomacy get the measure of the man and his tells he will be played – for good and ill. We can only hope the home-grown and allied experts start to desensitize his hot buttons before the Russians, Chinese, et al. get to work on him.

  4. Noé P. Campos (Brazil)

    My greater fear is because now Trump has the nuclear secrets/password and perhaps “away from” does’t exclude the worst possibility against the “enemy”. Secondly, impeachment may be the smaller of two evils. As all know, Lincoln and Kennedy were taken away through the most undesirable way, and that is my human fear reggarding to Trump as a human being.

  5. Rebecca Klug

    Hello Shelle, I was fascinated to read your blog, because first thing this morning, I’d been thinking similar thoughts! The headline news here is that our Prime Minister is on her way to Washington as the first foreign leader to meet Donald Trump. As I listened to that, I tried to imagine them communicating, and ran through the LAB profile triggers and traits comparing them. I’m afraid that the only one that they share is that they are both Internals…..unfortunately that will only make it even less likely that their bus stops are near each other, let alone at the same stop!! At least a continent away – and I suspect that’s where they will remain. Oh dear.

  6. Scott Byiers

    I am working on some presentation material and I wondered if there is a common Lab profile for people who have high EQ scores.

    1. suCeSS Post author

      Hi Scott, It is context-dependent. I suspect there will be some middle patterns, such as Internal and External. Anyone else have any other ideas?

  7. Lisa Olcese

    So insightful! In my role as a US citizen, I intend to hold all of my elected officials accountable, and seeing his Rule Structure in particular was great perspective on why this has felt so infuriating – and chilling – with less than a week into his post. What I’m especially concerned about is how he seems to be motivating his followers to buy into his 1st Amendment/Free Press witch hunt. And how do his followers think that a My/. rule structure makes for a good leader? Can we assume a standard Profile for the followers? I’m having a hard time finding good ground with them, so civil conversation (which Trump does NOT model) is harder to come by. Thanks for the great blog!!

    1. Shelle Post author

      Hi Lisa, It’s important to remember that LAB Profile patterns are contextual. In the Context of agreeing with Trump, I suspect followers get into high External, and a combination of Sameness and Difference. (Bring back the old America I knew and loved, … for a change.) Sameness with the past, Different from the future. They are also Away From the current state.

  8. Jay Arthur

    I’m wondering about EXTERNAL. If Trump was really external, wouldn’t he listen to feedback? Or is he really INTERNAL, taking it as information, deciding for himself that it’s crap and lashing out?

    1. suCeSS Post author

      Hi Jay! I agree. He is really Internal in the context of listening to many people. External in the context of his public reputation – hyper External! Along with the combination I mentioned.

  9. Don

    An excellent analysis, Shelle. Unfortunately, I am an American; He is my President (by election), but I am fearful of what’s to come.

    It would be interesting to see George W. Bush’s and Barack H. Obama’s Inaugural addresses put through the Libretta® software, for comparisons to how they acted and performed based on our 16 years experience of those two former U.S. Presidents.

    Thanks again.


    1. suCeSS Post author

      Hi Don, I did analyze Obama’s Yes We Can speech and surprisingly, unless you read the text, it has a dominant of Away From. The phrase that is Toward is “Yes We Can.”

  10. S Srinivasan

    Spot on analysis Shelle. The My/. attitude of his, I believe, could get not only him but America in lots of unwarranted trouble, especially concerning world issues. There is a gradual but definite loosening of America’s hold on other countries, notably China and Russia, who are more openly opposing US’s superpower status and not easily provoked.
    How his actions and triggers would shape a world, already in turmoil, in the near future, remains to be seen.
    A time to wait and watch OR……will it be too late????

  11. Nikki

    Shelle this is a fascinating and practical way to promote your work – please analyse other people in the news – I especially like the idea of the differences between the more revealing “off the cuff” comments and the speech writers influences.

  12. stand up to bullying.

    Brilliant analysis, Shelle. I do wish the Haters would stop bullying the man and work on influencing him on the right direction. He’s not all bad and the abuse thrown at him is disgusting. Comparing him to Hitler is utterly disgusting.
    Work with influencing him America- and stop displaying the behaviour you accuse him of !

    1. Mavis

      A great idea if this can be done with someone in the mode of My/-. Would it work through his External mode as regards his reputation perhaps??

  13. Michael

    How would President Trump utilise this information if he wants to change. ( assuming you can convince him that he needs to change )

    1. suCeSS Post author

      Hi Michael, assuming he wants to change, it would be useful to show him how he can prevent negative impressions from the people he thinks love him. and that this would be a “rogue” sort of thing to do. But I’m not convinced he’s the least bit interested in changing.

  14. Michael Whitcroft

    Clearly past-President Obama recognised all this when he told Trump that being President is a team job …. not one for an individual on their own!

  15. David Klaasen

    Great analysis Shelle! I was saddened that Hillary and her team did not see how Away-from he was during the Campaign. It will be interesting to see how he will respond to personal attacks because as you say, his high Feelings / External can be triggered very easily. His Proactive, My/. approach may excite his followers but his provocative swaggering is testing the patience of a lot of other power players and the stakes are very high . . .

  16. Dawie

    Great – this is how I also perceive him – about himself and his way of doing things (rules). He is going to rock the boat and that is maybe required in the world were governments play their own games and not really “care” about the voters

  17. Lynn

    I think you’re right on. I really appreciate the My/ comment. It is going to be all about him and how he’s going to take things. Thank you for your blog.


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