I just re-read my January, 2017 Leadership Report. The lead paragraph of that issue asks:
“Is it possible to make political discussions more civil? Can we use our political conversations and posts to help us learn and grow, or at least start by pretending that despite what we might think, we’re not always right, don’t know it all and anyone who disagrees with us might not be a moron? Let’s give it a try, shall we?”
Good grief. I don’t remember taking any Pollyanna pills before writing that.
So, here we are nearly a year later and in many respects, this situation is worse than ever.
Many politicians have turned flat-out ugly. Some news media commentators seem to thrive on the Game of “Gotcha,” which is diametrically opposed to what they would/should have learned in journalism school. Unfortunately, all too often politicians and news media influence the general public’s behavior, i.e., “If they shout at each other, we can shout at each other.”
In that January 2017 Leadership Report, I also shared some thoughts from others on ways to behave in a politically-charged environment. These are still valid.
Use This Holiday Season to Be Civil
“Civility in business, politics, the media and everyday life does not mean that competition, dissent and conflict should end,” wrote Joel H. Rosenthal, president, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. “Rather, it means that in the midst of the tough circumstances, we remember to treat individuals with dignity and respect and to honor the standards set by those whom we admire.”
Smile at people. Laugh with people.
In other words, be nice. The Golden Rule should be alive and well.
Manage Toward the Middle
In my political and business careers, I’ve learned that the best decisions on almost any issue are found near the middle of the continuum, blending the best thinking from both sides. In politics, the answer’s not on the far right or far left. Same, too, in business. In most cases the best decisions incorporate multiple points of view. That’s why high-performing organizations are also high-involvement organizations.
Listen to people with an open mind. You don’t need to approve of their decisions or philosophy. Being empathetic is having the ability to understand why someone believes what they do. The purpose of listening is not to endorse or feel validated, but to understand.
Don’t call people names, discount their ideas, interrupt, or talk over them. Allow people to respond to your questions and express their point of view. The vast majority of people you know believe they’re doing the best they can.
Key Takeaway: The holiday season can be stressful in many ways. Take the lead in stress reduction. Smile at people. Give the gift of random kindness. Have a happier new year.
And in the words of Jackie DeShannon:
What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.
What the world needs now is love, sweet love. No, not just for some, but for everyone.