We’re getting to the time of the year when political conversations, which are always lurking, come front and center. It’s not just that nearly every media outlet is covering the elections almost full-time. Social media, at least my feeds, is almost entirely politics (along with dog and cat photos). What strikes me most about all of this is how little of the discourse is a conversation and how much of it is a rant.
Of course, politics isn’t the only place where that pattern holds true. I’ve been in many business situations where people with opposing or different views on a topic don’t really converse and try to resolve their differences. They do a lot of talking and almost no listening. That’s something I always found to be unacceptable when my team did it, and so I’d remind them that being creative and developing ideas, is like playing tennis. You send something out and wait to see what comes back. In order to continue to play, you need to make adjustments since it won’t be coming back to the same place at the same speed every time.
Take note, as you scroll through the comments in social media, or on some blogs or in your next business meeting, about how little factual information is hit over the net at the other side. Note as well how a lot of the “players” don’t really have an interest in the game. They “win” by reciting whatever preconceived notion ad infinitum and either waiting for everyone else to give up or by taking their ball and racquet and going home. That accomplishes nothing but to make each person who participates in this way more dug in, angrier, and frankly, dumber, or at least, less smart.
If you’re having a dialog, remember that the word is rooted in the notion of accomplishing something through speech (dia: through and logos: speech, reason). You need to listen to do so. What do we accomplish via monologue other than to express ourselves? Does it matter if anyone is listening?
Playing tennis against an opponent requires you to adjust and accommodate and change your tactics. Playing against a wall by yourself doesn’t. Tennis anyone?