I find this quite ironic that I’m posting a blog about getting along. When I look at many political blogs and the comments section for most any type of article, I find that people have either a black or white opinion. Many situations immediately bring out a hateful comment resulting in a bashing of the author rather than a look at the arguments and logic behind them. A live example was watching the comments board on CNN.com during the last presidential debate – the thoughts were polarizing but instead of trying to understand what the thought is behind it, immediately it went toward a negative slam on the author or the party. Maybe that is all that can be done in 140 characters – but it is indicative of a bigger problem in the country.
I’m a full proponent of free speech – this is the very tenant that brought about this country and its success over the years. Looking back at history, there has always been disagreement about issues and examples where the debate has become heated and quite personal – ex Burr/Hamilton or the Civil War. However, for the most part, disagreements were civil and solved in a collaborative manner. It seems that today, we must take either a pro or con position and the other side is someone that cannot be worked with. For example, look at Congress today – outside of a few key well experienced senators, there is very little attempt at collaboration and reconciliation. People are more content with stomping around the room and saying that the other person isn’t doing their job – as if grandstanding is their job.
I know this is an oversimplification of the problem but all I can ask of someone is to:
- Listen – take the time to understand the issue, the environment around the issue, and the person making the claim.
- Don’t immediately react – usually the first reaction is emotional. Take the time to think and compose a logical response.
- Work together – let’s figure out how we can work together to solve problems – it is amazing the power a focused group brings to the table – even if they don’t all agree (see books and discussion on Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet). There may be disagreements, but the goal is understood and accomplished.
- Lead with the positive – there has to be something positive with what you are working to resolve – the room changes when you talk about the positive rather than pound away with the negative. Defenses drop and people want to work with you – rather than fight you. You don’t need to be all sunshine and roses – even partly sunny sounds better than partly cloudy.
I love my country and am proud to call myself an American. This gridlock can be solved – we just need to be rational and collaborative to accomplish the goal.