Civil Discourse in Life, Work & Leadership Roles

Imperfect but Beautiful!

Imagine your child, or your grandchild, going off to school for the first time. It’s natural for us to be anxious; our little one is venturing into the big, bad world, all alone, for the first time. That’s almost as traumatic a time for parents & grandparents, as it is for the child. Still, we take comfort from our parenting skills. And from the values we share with friends & neighbours in our community. It’s a nice school, with respected teachers, who are reliably acting in loco parentis. Everything will be fine.

Until you collect your weeping child at the bus stop!

The gut-wrenching, heart-stopping impact of this moment can be felt by almost every human being. Upon discovering that your child was denigrated by another. Be it for reasons of appearance, affliction, race, religion, or any other cause, the immediate, visceral reaction may be one of extreme anger towards the perpetrator.

But, often, the pain was caused another child. Despite our emotion, we reign in our more agressive instincts & proceed with a more cautious & civil approach. We need to, both, sooth our child, & to address the problem. And in such a manner that it allows both children to move forward, together, in a civil & mutually respectful way.

In just about every sales course I’ve ever attended, or any sales book I’ve ever read, we are cautioned against speaking ill of our competition. Despite that, I’m guessing that most sales people will admit to having uttered a phrase that starts out something like this …

“That’s an interesting point, Ms. Customer, but …”

I should add a little mea culpa at this point, for my own, very rare, transgressions!

How about politics? It almost seems like the norm nowadays, in many countries, is to denigrate & divide. And some of us seem content, perhaps at times gleeful, that this is the case. As a politician, if you can lock in the firm support of a sufficiently large part of the constituency, you have a blueprint for successfully winning, & holding, power. It seems like everything is in play here; truths, half-truths, & possibly mis-truths, can be all be used. So long as the win is delivered. Sometimes, this is the will of the majority. And that may be democratic. But is it right?

Taking that political logic back to sales; were we to use truths, half-truths, & possibly mis-truths in the sales environment, would we be more successful? Frankly, if I could win 40 or 50% of the orders in my customer base, by modelling my approach on this political strategy, I would probably win some additional orders in the near term. Sure, half the base wouldn’t be speaking to me. But who cares? I’m still ahead where it matters. Right!?!

It almost feels like we’ve come around to believing that civil discourse is no longer required in our political leaders. Is it still required in our working life? Or in our daily interactions within our communities?

If this is the kind of world we want to live in …

Why do we pretend to teach our children that they should grow up to be nice, kind of heart, generous of spirit, & capable of civil discourse, as adults?

And if this is not the kind of world we want for our children …

Why do we sponsor & model such behavior for them?

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