Fact: For many of us, the “good old days” are filled with memories of family and/ or friends’ get-togethers, fun and laughter. In the midst of the COVID–19 pandemic, these get — togethers, whether virtual or in-person, are really important in keep our important relationship systems connected. But, sometimes today’s “good old days” can also be stressful days. Many of us dread the subject of politics, fearing that one person’s opinion may cause another either to argue or withdraw or worse actually leave the get-together taking a lot of joy with them. In political discussions today, often what’s being discussed is clouded by emotions which trigger less than thoughtful responses.
Resilient Leadership makes a distinction between content and emotional process. Content is what is being discussed — the words that are spoken. Yet what drives the words, especially in tense conversations, is emotional process. Internally, when anxiety rises, feelings override sound thinking. One’s internal anxiety is often demonstrated by spoken words which then triggers another to argue, withdraw, or simply leave the discussion. The external display of tension filled emotional process then spreads the “infection.”
Action: Today more so than ever, we all would do well to share our views and listen to the content of our political discussions with a heightened awareness of the “emotional process”- thus allowing for a more thoughtful and fruitful exchange. When we do, we are practicing more self-awareness which helps with self-regulation and ultimately results in much more enjoyable get-togethers.
Try It: In political conversations with family and friends over the next month, practice listening with an open mind and sharing your thinking as viewpoints you have rather than irrefutable facts. Envision your conversations as talking “with” another rather than talking “at” them.
For future discussion or to learn more, contact me!
Jim Moyer — Resilient Leadership Development