Random Daily Thoughts 1.10.21
Everyone wants to be right.
Everyone likes being right but how important is that? Do you always have to be right? These days it should be about being a good listener, especially given the contentious way that grievance politics has dominated our daily lives. This note isn’t about politics but it is about how you treat people, how well you listen to others and whether you’re willing to learn. This simple skill has never been more critical but how to get people talking again? Whether in a coffee shop, the grocery store or a corporate setting, people are very angry these days. Covid has everyone frustrated, whether you take it seriously, over-seriously or think it’s a hoax. Life has changed, some people believe they’re having their liberties taken away while others are displaying newfound empathy and helping those they’ve never met.
How do we move forward? How do we build a more just and equitable society where everyone feels heard, even if we can’t give everyone what they want? Is there a middle ground, where conversations can establish common ground without the visceral attacks that have become all too commonplace?
Try this- stop pretending someone is on the polar opposite end of the spectrum on an issue. Rather, assume they’re in the middle and you’re seeking to understand why they feel the way they do. You might be surprised how they frame their argument. You may think they’re sugar-coating the issue. “They’re more radical than that.” But what if they’re not? Maybe that one issue was important to them and that made it easier for them to look past other items that anger other people. Because those issues may be THE issue that’s important to them. OK, now what?
Reframing the lens is a concept I came up with many years ago. It’s tilting an issue a few degrees off center, offering a new way to view the problem or issue. Maybe the tilt is five degrees, maybe it’s fifty! Regardless, offering a perspective without judgement allows for dialogue around the issue without all the daily baggage we all carry. Perhaps two parties will still disagree. But perhaps the way you’ve reframed the lens, the way they see you and your issue, will now be appreciated in a way deemed impossible just moments earlier.
Now what if that person is so damaged, so gullible, that you can’t even get a conversation going? Everything feels like an argument because they’re convinced they’re right and nothing will change their mind? Sometimes you do have to walk away but today, perhaps you have to remind them their decisions and actions have consequences. Serious consequences. Safety and health consequences. Freedom versus prison consequences. Encourage them to read a book and wish them well. You can’t bring everyone to the middle to talk. Sometimes they’re not ready and may never be.
Knowing the difference between investing in the engagement or otherwise detaching completely, that is the big question for our current times. Sometimes people just want to be right and they may just lose all the liberties they’ve been clamoring about all along.