It’s Thanksgiving– Keep Talking and Supporting Each Other The election is over, but the uncertainty, divisiveness and questions remain. Colleagues, friends and relatives who are on different sides of the issues (and supported different candidates) are questioning each other’s intelligence, thought processes and whether they really know each other at all. Trust and in some cases civility have eroded, and our tendency is to withdraw from speaking to or even being with those who don’t share our opinions. But this is the worst thing that could happen. When we are divided and don’t seek common ground in order to move forward, we just make matters worse. This is sadly very evident in the rash of hate crimes that have started occurring across the county.
You MUST continue to communicate with all your co-workers. Your job and the effectiveness of your team may depend upon these people skills, which are now being put to the test. You should not isolate yourself from friends who don’t agree with you. After all, you may have spent years doing things together and building a host of wonderful memories. Is that worth just throwing away? No, it’s not.
How do you get past this? Time certainly will help, but “go high”—like Michelle Obama said, and reach out. Go and actively support issues that matter to you. Talk to your colleagues and friends. Share Thanksgiving with those you love. Maybe you can’t talk politics right now, but you can find positive things to share and to rebuild your relationships on.
For co-workers, talk about events that you shared, successes that your experienced together in the past, upcoming goals and how to reach them together. Steer away from what divides you at this time. The same for friends and family—talk about fun trips and occasions that you shared, what you are currently doing, fun hobbies, the kids, the holidays. Keep it positive.
IF you feel compelled to talk about the election, approach it knowing that the discussion could be negatively charged. So, you want to go into it with some “ground rules:”
- I would really like to hear your opinion on why you voted this way. Maybe I could learn something.
- Let’s keep it factual and unemotional if at all possible. Leave out words like “How could you…?” That is a put-down.
- Are there things that we actually do agree upon? What are they?
- And if it does get uncomfortable, let’s agree to table the discussion until we can talk about it calmly without so much emotion. You must realize that you may never have this discussion at all.
Remember that truly the most important thing you will ever do in life is Communicate. If we stop doing that, we will cease all positive forward movement—which is the key. Let’s work together to stay together and make progress– together. “Thanksgiving” after all, is a word of action.