Please note – this is NOT a rant – it’s an observation. Actually, it’s a plea for change.

We obviously have several major issues facing our country today… an untamed pandemic, a downward spiraling economy, inflamed political vitriol, and continued systemic racism. 

But we have a rarely talked about underlying issue that is making each of these problems exponentially worse – an eroding ability to have civil, respectful discourse with people who have differing views.

It appears very view people have the emotional intelligence, confidence, or maturity to have a polite, dispassionate discussion with someone they disagree with. 

And with the current divide our country is experiencing on everything mentioned above… this issue is becoming volatile… and it’s stunting progress.

Open discussion is how you move forward in any relationship… whether one-on-one or organizationally. Being able to dispassionately discuss hard issues is how you grow… how you improve… how you move forward. 

A discussion, by definition, means a blend of sharing and listening. It’s going back and forth like a game of verbal ping pong.

But that rarely happens anymore. 

Too many people are shouting and not enough people are listening. 

Too many people let their blatant ignorance, deep rooted insecurities, and inflated ego highjack their emotions. They immediately resort to juvenile name calling and making unfounded assumptions/judgements about people with an opposing point of view. These people often lack the wherewithal to separate facts from feelings. They default to knee jerk reactions of pure emotion.

They close their ears and open their mouth.

Don’t believe me? Post ANYTHING on social media that ‘takes a side’… wait 15 minutes… and read the comments. Whether ‘mask vs no mask’ or ‘in school vs virtual’ or ‘Trump vs Biden’ or Black Lives Matter vs… you get the point.

And it happens no matter ‘what side you’re on.’

I hold very strong opinions on a myriad of issues… but I will not let my personal feelings override being kind and respectful to those that disagree. I will not let my personal convictions wall me off from listening to other people’s views (and learning why they feel the way they do). I will not let myself believe my personal perspective is more important than anyone else’s.

We are all biased. Yes, every one of us. We all see the world through our own lens.

That lens has been shaped by where we grew up, when we grew up, and how we grew up. 

It’s been shaped by who raised us, how we were raised, and if we’re raising anyone else right now.

It’s been shaped by our gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. 

It’s been shaped by our life experiences, hobbies/interests, and what we’ve read/watched/listened to.

It’s been shaped by who we surround ourselves with, our core values, and our emotional intelligence.

With so many characteristics that determine how we each uniquely see the world… why would you expect everyone to see things the exact same way you do? More so, why get so offended when they don’t?

Furthermore, if you are so adamant that your belief is ‘right’ and that other’s should adopt your way of thinking… do you really think hostility, defamatory remarks, and condescension is going to actually change their mind? Do you change your mind when people treat you that way? 

Why not try actively listening with empathy, compassion, and tolerance?

And if someone clearly lacks the interpersonal skills or emotional fitness to engage in a civil discussion… why even bother? Don’t you have better things to do then argue with someone that slow witted?

Nothing gets better from arguing.

Things only improve from discussion.

Thanks for ‘listening.’