7 ways we the people can restore civility
By Lisa Earle McLeod
McLeod & More, Inc.
There's a critical turning point inside every conflict when the two parties either attack each other, or they attack the problem. These seven best practices keep the focus on the problem.
We're at a turning point. We claim we want civility. But let's be honest; what we really want is for the other side to shut up.
We can criticize the politicians, but how many of us truly want to collaborate or cooperate? Here's the deal, people: Congress works for us. They're not going to change until we do. They're not going to start thinking bigger until we start thinking bigger.
Polarizing politics is not a new problem. During the 2004 election, I watched my close suburban community divide. People who once shared friendly backyard barbecues began to question each other's morals and values. At the time I was a member of two groups, one very conservative and one very liberal. Because they both considered me a like-minded peer, they spoke freely about the other side.
I got to hear their unfiltered assessment of "those people." You know, "those people" who don't share our values, who don't care about our country, or families or schools or God the same way we do. Both sides were equally self-righteous and judgmental.
It broke my heart, because I knew that their values were more alike than they were different. I also knew there had to be a better way.
I spent the next five years studying the world's greatest problem solvers, people like Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. I dissected conflict after conflict to identify which behaviors enabled people to solve their problems and which behaviors kept them stuck. The result: The Triangle of Truth, a problem-solving model to rise above either/or thinking.
Based on the best practices of the world's greatest thinkers, The Triangle of Truth is rooted in seven core principles:
1. Embrace and
2. Make peace with ambiguity
3. Hold space for other perspectives
4. Seek higher ground
5. Discern intent
6. Elevate others
7. Be the peace
If we want things to change in Washington, D.C., we the people need to start the process. I used to sit on the sidelines criticizing politicians. Then I decided this is my country; if I love it, I need to stop criticizing and start helping.
So here's my offer: I've spent the last 18 months training business leaders in these principles, and I literally wrote the book on conflict resolution. If you think your Senator or Representative could benefit from learning these techniques, send me a message and I'll send them a copy of the book, for free.
I'll also fly to Washington to work with them or any member of their staff, on my dime. This may cost me a bundle; in fact, I hope it does. I hope we have to give away 538 free copies and that I have to spend hours of pro bono time helping Congress reframe their thinking.
Why am I doing this? Because I love my country. I'm a mother, I'm a business owner, and I'm an American citizen who is no longer going to sit on the sidelines and watch her country implode. If we the people want a better government, then we the people need to help our leaders create one. I'm in. How about you?