Archive for October, 2018

Talk TO – Not AT

October 5, 2018

Business, civic, and personal conversation seems to have evolved – or devolved – into negative behaviors with increasing frequency and intensity.

I don ‘t know what the root cause is, but many people seem to dislike other people these days. They show little or no respect for the opinions or beliefs of others, and they strive to prevent the fair and equal exchanges of ideas.

Some seem to believe they know what’s best for others and use various techniques to force convictions rather than foster conversation.

Many justify such behavior saying they are just “making their points” by being forceful and articulate. They strive to capture the attention of others and “tell their story” by talking over others who hold different opinions.

In the world we live in, the opinion of one person is as valid as the opinion of another person. The position might be different or even diametrically opposed, but it’s valid. We are free to disagree, but we are not free to disparage or to prevent others from holding a contrary opinion.

The key word in such disagreement is: CIVILITY.

Disagree, but don’t be disagreeable.

Discourse should rely on information not on inflammation.

Let’s take a look at some of the behaviors that get in the way of conversation and produce what has been described as “lots of heat, but little light.”

“IN YOUR FACE” In this part of the world, there is approximately 2.5 to 3 feet of space between participants engaged in a conversation. Any closer creates tension and an atmosphere of aggression – even intimidation. That’s never good for an exchange of ideas.

COSTUMES / Masks In any civil discourse it’s important for participants to be able to see each other. When anyone wears a mask or hides his or her identity there is a barrier. There can’t be sincere discourse when there is secrecy.

When participants hide their identity their motives and their intentions quickly come into question, inhibiting honest discourse.

VOLUME Shouting at others during an exchange of ideas is never productive.

When excessive volume is combined with the “in your face” posture it leads to conflict and greater tension.

DIALOGUE vs. DUOLOGUE   The first term defines equal participation in an exchange of ideas. The second term describes how one party focuses attention on what he will say as soon as the other party finishes. Frequently he interrupts to prevent that conclusion.

PHYSICAL CONTACT / DAMAGE Very rarely, if ever, will touching another person or his property lead to productive ends. Simply stated: Don’t do it!

Now let’s look at factors that can generate positive outcomes in an exchange of ideas or beliefs. No one can guarantee agreement, but everyone can experience an equal and open exchange of ideas that can lead to understanding or at the least, respect for another’s point of view, if not agreement. Here are the key words.

EQUITY Everyone is entitled to equal use of facilities and locations in which to present opinions and suggestions. No group or individual has the right to prevent another group or individual from presenting contradicting ideas in a specific venue.             RESPECT   In any debate or dispute, opposing sides developed their positions as a result of differing experiences. Those experiences resulted in reaching different solutions. Before either side can participate productively, all parties need to understand the contributing factors.

One may not agree, but that’s not license to silence a differing opinion.

LISTEN   That’s how we discover the various elements and factors that contribute to divergent convictions. It has often been said, “Although we think we know what we know we certainly don’t know everything we don’t know.”

Without complete information we may make questionable decisions.

Here is a final thought to remember about CIVILITY in business, civic, and personal behavior.

When you listen, you might learn something new and important, but when you talk, you hear only what you already know.

What’s the point of that?

Recently, I saw a little plaque in an office that read, “Be nice, and visit with us for a while.”

That’s civility!

 

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