Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Ray van Hilst Avatar

Since I’ve started using this blog for more professional than personal observations, I’ve stayed away from political discussions.  However, the recent primary election results have compelled me to comment.

Despite your political leanings, it is clear that the last two significant elections have been driven by voter sentiment that is the polar opposite of whatever party is in power.  The outcome seems to have become a divisive “I don’t want to work with you” attitude.  As I watch the evening news, I feel like I’m watching grown adults behave like my 6 year old having a tantrum because he doesn’t want to do his chores.

And the result is that we have a system dominated by groups that hold on to their opinions so strongly that no one wants to work together — and eventually nothing happens.

I’m all for strong opinions.  It’s why people like me have jobs and why companies and non-profits bring in consultants.  Let’s face it we don’t gravitate toward milquetoast personalities.

But the reality is that 99% of us get paid to get work done (unless you are a reality TV star).   And eventually you have to work with others to do that.

Some conflict is good and can help push conversations forward.  However, when faced with looming deadlines or a tense situation there is still work to be done.  Then it’s time to open up and figure out a way to work together.

I’m kicking off a web governance project with a client today.  This is sure to be a tense conversation involving people’s expertise, their feelings, perceptions of their work and more.  But at the end of it all, I am confident that the professionals I work with who are tasked with managing an organization will realize that they need to get things done and they’ll find a way to work together.

After all, we all can’t be politicians and reality TV stars.  So let’s check our egos, open our ears (and our minds) and find a way to work together.

4 responses

  1. Maggie McGary

    That’s why I don’t vote–I don’t want any part of the craziness that is politics. The whole thing is a nightmare of egos, corruption and stupidity. I might vote for Obama next year, however, because I like him 😉

  2. judy price

    Maybe if Congress had term limits like so many other offices, the driving force behind all of their decisions would no longer be the ‘next election’. It would enable them to concentrate on practical governing and not how their vote will affect their job or campaign money come November.

  3. Nabeel Ahmed

    First of all, Plato was a smart dude. He said and I quote, “Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.”

    Second, good piece of writing and I enjoyed it

    Lastly, I agree with Maggie. Contrary to what the poll say right now, Obama 2012. We need someone who is smart and someone who can pull us out of this grave we have been digging for the past decade.

  4. Lisa Junker

    Your post reminds me of some great advice I’ve seen on Bob Sutton’s blog at various times. He states it in a couple of ways: “Have strong opinions, weakly held” or “Argue as if you were right and listen as if you were wrong.” (I’m pretty sure neither of those quotes are original to him, but his blog is where I read them.) If more of us could really listen to others and be genuinely willing to change our minds, I think we could achieve that positive conflict you’re talking about instead of the negative, “let’s dig into our mental silos and never come out” kind of conflict we see all too often.

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