Donald Trump should take his daughter’s approach to criticism

Haters gonna hate.
Haters gonna hate.
Image: Reuters/Carlos Barria
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Being president of the United States is a busy job. Yet since his inauguration, Donald Trump appears to have consistently made time to catch up on criticism directed at him or his administration. Indeed, tweeting angry responses is a near-daily Trump habit.

While Trump undoubtedly considers it important to set the record straight on being the most presidential and popular president in US history, he should consider the very different approach to scrutiny employed by one of his most trusted advisors: Ivanka Trump. Speaking at the 2018 Concordia Summit in New York—a nonpartisan policy forum that takes place yearly alongside the UN General Assembly—Ivanka said she does not waste any time with criticism.

“Nothing prepares you for the intensity of the experience—nothing,” Ivanka said of her time in the White House, but added that she has learned not to pay attention to “the noise” of what is said about her, the government, and her work. “I tend not to respond,” she explained. “I tend not to debunk the criticism, I tend not to say when things are blatantly factually inaccurate. Because I view my experience here as such precious time.”

The president’s daughter says she has seen people in the administration waste so much time contending with criticism that they end up missing their goals. Her description of that situation fits rather poignantly with the impression one might have of her father’s approach:

I have seen people—and they care so much, and they just want to good work—and then they start getting Google alerts and they go down the rabbit hole of caring what people think about them and it starts to take a little bit more of their time, a little bit more of their time, they get defensive, they start to be suspicious of those around them, they start to ask who’s circulating this, who said this, who said that. And not only is it pointless, not only does it drain your energy, not only does it sometimes cause your internal compass to go awry but […] I find getting too sort of engaged in the daily chaos as distracting.

Ivanka said a friend who has been in government for a long time recommended keeping a “near myopic focus” on work, noting that paying attention to anything outside of the primary professional concern ends up preventing work from getting done.

It’s impossible to know whether Ivanka was offering veiled advice to her own father, or if there are other, similarly thin skinned members of the administration. Either way, she makes a wise point, one Trump could stand to absorb.