A Response to the US Election Fallout

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Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

By Tasha M. Troy

A few days before the US election, one of my colleagues came in looking very unsettled.  She was truly terrified of what it would mean if Donald Trump won the election.  We talked briefly, and I shared my views, some of which I will share with you today.

Honestly, I hesitated to add my voice to the cacophony of reaction.  However, I am in a unique position to have friends, family, and acquaintances at all points of the political spectrum, and I make it my business to understand different perspectives.

In multiple conversations before the election, I said that our country is headed for trouble no matter who won the election.  The range of reactions – from multiple sides – has only confirmed my prognosis.  We are still a country divided, and no election was going to change that, but especially one that presented two highly polarizing candidates.

Vote for LIFE

In fact, because I vote for LIFE, I was not presented with a viable option between the two major party candidates.

I could not support Secretary Clinton.  Not only did I know her to be an advocate for abortion-on-demand, but she also desires to use my money as a taxpayer to fund abortions up until the day of birth.  This is abhorrent to me.

I could not support Mr. Trump.  He may have adopted a “pro-life” position as a candidate, but his words and actions have revealed a lack of respect for particular groups of people.  This is contrary to what I have dedicated my life to – the valuing of each individual life.

When I say, “I vote for LIFE,” I mean to say that I believe all human life has value, no matter at what point in the life cycle it is, and that all humans are worthy of respect.  This means I believe:

  • Black lives matter
  • immigrant lives matter
  • women’s lives matter
  • Muslim lives matter
  • LGBTQ lives matter

LIFE matters!

Action Steps

So now we have a nominally pro-life president-elect who doesn’t seem to respect life.  How do we now contend for LIFE?

First of all – pray!

Over the next few days and weeks, the president-elect will be establishing his cabinet and advisors.  In just the first week after his election, I have seen him make some choices that cause me concern.

My prayer is that Mr. Trump will be surrounded with wise counsel that will move our country toward reconciliation rather than the current path of division and that any divisive voices would lose their influence.  Will you join me in this prayer?

Second of all – love!

We must show our neighbors and the world that while Mr. Trump has been elected to be president, we do not endorse the hateful and divisive rhetoric that drew some voters to his camp.

There have been reports of hate crimes and harassment committed by those emboldened by Mr. Trump’s election.  While some of these reports have been shown to be fake, it would be a mistake to dismiss all reports.  I would rather show compassion for a fake victim than to risk dismissing a true victim.

We do this by showing kindness to those around us, especially those who look or believe differently than we do.  We do it by listening to people’s stories and not dismissing their experience when it is different from ours.  We do it by defending the vulnerable.  We do it in action as well with words.

A House Divided

Mark 3:25 states “if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”  My heart cry is that our nation, which has been an inspiration for democracy and freedom and human rights around the world, would continue to stand.  Yes, there are clear injustices that must be resolved, and we must be the ones to pursue resolution.  It is not within the power of politicians to heal our land, but it is within ours.

Honestly, I don’t know if I was any comfort to my colleague when we spoke before the election, and I don’t know if this has helped you either, but I hope can hear my heart.

 

Take It Deeper

If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions on Fridays.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

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Primary Election Fallout – 3 Steps to Prevent Conflict Before It Starts

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By Tasha M. Troy

Today five more states are voting in primaries.  This has been one of the most contentious primary seasons I can remember.  Even more, at this point in my life, I have friends from around the world representing all points in the political spectrum, people I care deeply about and disagree strongly with.

photo by Tasha M. Troy

photo by Tasha M. Troy

I refuse to believe I must “unfriend” or even simply avoid the people I care about who don’t hold the same views as I do.  Indeed, sometimes those people live under my roof – there is no escape!

Here are three steps that help me live in harmony even if I can’t live in agreement.

Step 1:  Observe Carefully

The foundation of living peacefully with others is awareness of differences between ourselves and others, not just who we assume they are and where we believe they are coming from.  How many times have you stated an opinion, assuming you were with like-minded friends, only to find you’d offended someone?  Even people we have known for years grow and change and are not the same people they were five or ten years ago.

In order to grow in awareness, you much be observant – watch and listen for what their values, goals, and motivations are.  Once you have determined this, apply John Maxwell’s 101% principle – find the 1% you agree on and give it 100%!

Step 2: Listen Attentively

In order to truly connect with someone, you have to understand their perspective, and the only way to do that is to listen “connectively” – listen to understand instead of to defend or respond.

This is, of course, easier said than done, but with practice you can develop the habit of truly hearing a person out.  It really does make listening a bit easier when you’re not constantly thinking about a witty repartee.

Step 3: Speak Wisely

The final step is when words finally come out of your own mouth.  To connect with someone, you must “speak their language” – start with what is important to them before you can explain what is important to you.

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 3.05.06 PMFor example, if you want to talk to a Trump supporter, you can’t start with the plight of the underprivileged.  You have to start with addressing the issues of government regulation and immigration reform before you can come around to what is important to you.

Likewise, if you are talking to a Sanders supporter, you can’t start with the challenges facing entrepreneurs.  You have to start with addressing economic inequality and lack of opportunity facing the lower and middle classes before you can talk about other issues.

 

No matter who wins the primaries today or who ultimately receives the party nominations this year, there will be people who are upset and who disagree with you and others.  In Colossians, Paul said, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”  One translations says “gracious and attractive.”  In the end, how we speak impacts our relationships, which are intended to last much longer than an election season.  Speak wisely and avoid election season fallout!

 

Take It Deeper

If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions on Fridays.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

Protect Your Buttons!

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A few years ago, I brought a roommate into my home.  This was the first time I’d had a roommate since I’d graduate from college, so many years ago, so it was a bit of an adjustment for me.

To make things more challenging, my roommate and I had dramatically different personalities.  She was an extrovert who enjoyed arguments for fun, and I am an introvert who avoids conflict whenever possible.

I will never forget the first break from teaching I had after she had moved in.  I was all set to have a relaxing week in preparation for the intense couple of months I knew would follow.  I walked into the kitchen one day early in the week, and my roommate decided she needed to convince me I needed to become an extrovert, a point she pursued tirelessly for 10 or 15 minutes.  She ended up telling me I needed to defend myself, but I saw no need to argue over my introversion!

It turns out that she wanted me to relax and have fun by arguing!

IMG_0551This was not the last time she picked an argument with me.  That year was an election year, and we held opposing political views.  That in itself didn’t bother me; I quite enjoy the open exchange of ideas.  The fact that she always had to be right did bother me.

One night she had me so frustrated and angry that I went to my room and cried.  Yes, I sobbed!  I was convinced I’d have to ask her to move.  She heard me and came and apologized.  Thankfully, she never provoked me to that degree again, but we never really were able to develop a friendship.

How often do we let people or circumstances “push our buttons”?

Any time we are drawn into a conflict it is important to remember one thing:  I can only control and change myself; there is nothing I can do to control the other person or their reactions.

If that is the case, what can we do to rise above the drama of everyday, or extraordinary, conflict?

Imperfect Progress

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Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Changing how you react to the people and circumstances that provoke you is not a quick and easy thing.  In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell talks about “The Law of Process” – leadership doesn’t develop in a day, but daily.  I think here we could substitute the term “personal growth” for leadership.  It’s a process.

Just like losing weight or building muscles or learning how to perform any skill takes time, effort, attention, and practice, so building our emotional muscles takes time.

Lysa TerKeurst talks about such a process in her book Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions.  She calls it “imperfect progress.”  If each day we are making slightly better choices than we did yesterday, we are making progress.  We won’t react perfectly every time; we are still human and we will blow it.  However, if that happens less and less frequently, we have cause to celebrate.

The Ongoing Struggle

When my roommate finally moved out, she did so in such a way as to provoke conflict.  However, by that time I had begun to value my inner peace more than exerting my rights and managed to avoid a final open conflict.  It truly was a struggle – the woman had become an expert at pushing my buttons – but I chose to not respond to her provocations in the way she expected.  Imperfect progress.

In what area of life do you need to allow “imperfect progress”?

 

References

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions.  by Lysa TerKeurst

Great Outcomes and Shared Interests

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In 2004, I was living and working in S. Korea.  It was the first time I experienced a US presidential election while living overseas, and I was truly surprised by the interest my Korean friends and connections showed in the election.  In retrospect, it made sense; the policy decisions in the US have wide-sweeping impacts around the globe.  It was at that point that I started paying even more attention to US foreign policy.

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Photo by Tasha M. Troy

In their book Real Influence, Mark Goulston and John Ullmen describe four steps in their “connected influence” model.  The first step is “go for great outcomes,” which they define as “standing for something noble and worthwhile, … about going beyond where people want to be and showing them where they could be” (p. 39).  This is what I hope to accomplish in this post.

Standing for Something Noble:  America was once considered a world leader, promoting democracy and human rights, resisting totalitarianism, fighting for freedom and liberty.  There is something inspiring in the images of Captain American and Superman, however unrealistic they may be.

However, that image was not entirely accurate.  We have not always used our power and influence wisely or ethically.  I was first made aware of the “dark side” of American exceptionalism when I was in high school and I learned about US intervention in other nations having catastrophic impacts on those nations.

As an example, I wrote a report for my history class my senior year in high school on the effects of US intervention in Nicaragua.  I discovered that by supporting a “right-wing dictator” in the first half of the 20th century, the US actually set the stage for the communist regime to gain power in the 1970s.

Strangely enough, we still haven’t learned our lesson; we are still supporting repressive regimes in other countries, leading to the loss of civil liberties and human rights in places such as Iraq and Ethiopia.

Closer to home, we hear in the news everyday of injustices being perpetrated on the disadvantaged, the underprivileged, the different.  We tried to tell ourselves that prejudice was dead, but we see across the country that it is alive and well.  I know I am not exempt, though I strive to identify and eliminate judgmental attitudes in myself.

Where People Want to Be:  Clearly, these injustices can not be allowed to continue, either at home or abroad.  I believe people want to see economic inequality and racial prejudices not merely reduced but completely eliminated, personal freedoms ensured.  What I envision is a world where every person is enabled to reach their God-given potential.

Where I think we have trouble is that we disagree on precisely how to accomplish this.  Some may think it is impossible and have given up, but I still have hope.  A first step is “healing the timeline.”

Dutch Sheets, in his book An Appeal to Heaven, talks about “healing the timeline.”  By this, he means that we as a nation need to recognize the injustices in our own history (and present), not deny or ignore them, and actively and humbly seek reconciliation.

We humans engage in denial at times, because it seems to alleviate the pain, but God doesn’t.  His plan, as Isaiah said, is always to “rebuild … raise up … repair … restore” the broken timelines.  The mending of these breaks allows the pain of the past to heal, not be buried.  … Without true healing, this cycle of pain repeats itself generation after generation. …

Through humility, repentance, God’s love, and forgiveness, we can heal history’s timeline. (p. 22-24)

Showing Them Where They Could Be:  After World War 2, we were the thought leaders of the world.  We were respected even by those who disliked us.  Still today, for good or ill, the US holds great influence on nations and individuals near and far.  To deny that influence is to perpetuate injustice.  We have to get our own house in order so that we can once again be an influence for human rights, justice, and liberty.

 

Links and Resources:

An Invitation – Join me for a live Q&A call, Thursday, July 16, at 8:00 p.m. EDT.

Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing and Gain without Giving by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen

An Appeal to Heaven by Dutch Sheets

  • A short, quick, easy read, full of hope for the future of America.

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.

  • A systematic approach to difficult conversations that can make or break a relationship; more focused on specific types of conversations than Real Influence.

 

 

Where do we go from here?

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I have been watching current events closely.  It appears that the divisions in the US between different groups are only continuing to widen, and a resolution to our issues seems more and more unlikely.

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US Supreme Court, April 28, 2015; photo by Tasha M. Troy

In just the past few weeks, we’ve seen clear evidence that the racial, social, and ideological divide (which I am trying to bridge) continues to widen.

  • The June 17 shooting at a historic Black church, killing 9 and setting off a series of church burnings.
  • The June 26 Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, causing great rejoicing at the affirmation of civil rights for some and deep mourning at the loss of civil liberties for others.

 

At this point, it seems the only voices I clearly hear are from either extreme end of the spectrum, spewing fear and hate; only those who are deeply entrenched in their positions are heard.  Under these conditions, the situation will only continue to get worse.  Some have voiced concerns of a coming race war; others fear the further loss of first amendment rights.  The future, indeed, looks bleak.

However, I believe that as long as there is life, there is hope.

Yes, I still hope that things can and will get better.  I believe communication is the root of all relationship, and if we are going to truly bridge the divides we see here in the US (and in other countries as well), we have to stop broadcasting our entrenched opinions and start listening.

In the coming weeks, I will write more about what I believe we as a nation need to start doing in order to begin healing the divisions and schisms among us.  I truly believe it begins with what Mark Goulston and John Ullmen call “connected influence.”  If you’ve been reading Bridging the Divide for very long, you probably know I think very highly of their book Real Influence.

I believe their four-stage model is the key to turning things around in our country.

  1. Go for great outcomes: the US was once considered the greatest nation in the world, but not today.  I believe the US can be great once more – if certain criteria are met.  (Clarification – I am not talking about “American Exceptionalism” here; I will write more of my thoughts about this next week.)
  2. Listen past your blind spot: we do too much talking and not enough listening.
  3. Engage them in their there: we have to meet others where they are, not expecting them to come to us first.
  4. When you’ve done enough … do more: there is no short-term fix; we have to take the long view and invest for the future.

In the weeks ahead, I will lay out my thoughts on how we, as a nation, can walk in connected influence in such a way as to bring healing to our society.  Yes, I know I am a bit idealistic, but I am still hopeful that we can find common ground and move forward as a nation.

 

Links and Resources:

Read my review of Real Influence

Website for Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing and Gain without Giving In

Series of blog posts by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen based on the concepts in Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing and Gain without Giving In

YouTube Playlist of interview with Dr. Mark Goulston

Communication Fundamentals course on Lynda.com, taught by John Ullmen

 

Conflict and Non-Zero-Sum Dynamics

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Every relationship will experience conflict in some measure.  However, the most complex conflicts involve groups and communities.  According to Robert Wright, interdisciplinary writer and journalist, “all the salvation of the world requires is the intelligent pursuit of self-interests in a disciplined and careful way.”

How can we accomplish this?  Robert Wright has some ideas.

 

 

Conflict Handling – The Collaborative Style

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By Tasha M. Troy

Over the last five to ten years, one of my greatest pleasures has been working with my co-teachers.  In fact, because we teach the same students  in different contexts, the last few years I’ve had to work particularly close with my fellow instructors in planning and implementing lessons.

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

As we are discussing an upcoming lesson, I might suggest an activity that my colleague doesn’t particularly like for some reason.  Then she may suggest something I’ve tried before that didn’t go over so well.  Then we come up with a third version, a hybrid that addresses the issues that didn’t work in the past and emphasizes the skills we want the students to focus on.  By taking multiple perspectives into consideration, a richer, more inclusive plan can be crafted.

As Colonel “Hannibal” Smith of the A-Team used to say, I love it when a plan comes together!

Sometimes referred to as “win-win,” the collaborating style of conflict resolution usually produces the most lasting results.  When both sides have a voice in crafting the solution, both can walk away happy with the conclusion of the matter, not merely mollified.

This style is as much, it not more so, about the process of reaching an agreement than it is about the agreement itself.  It requires a high level of self disclosure from all parties if a truly collaborative result is to be achieved.  Of course, this also requires a high level of trust, which doesn’t come easy in most cases.

Drawbacks

While it may produce the most favorable outcomes, this style also takes the most time and effort to reach a resolution. The tricky part is that it depends on both sides being committed to seeing the process through.

Additionally, if trust has been eroded prior to engaging in this process, that must be addressed before any other issues can be resolved.  Incremental progress on smaller issues while trust is reestablished is essential.

Benefits

The key benefit of spending all the time necessary to work out a truly collaborative solution is that all involved will ideally buy into the solution.  The best solutions take everyone’s concerns into consideration and create a unique answer to the problem or conflict.

Take It Deeper

If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions on Fridays.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

 

Links and Resources:

“Conflict Resolution:  Resolving Conflict Rationally and Effectively”

An article that explains the five conflict handling styles as well as the “Interest Based Relational Approach” to dealing with conflict, an approach based on the concepts of the book Getting to Yes by authors Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton

Trust: The Linchpin of Influence 

Are you ready to become a REAL Success?  Check out the schedule for a Mastermind Group starting soon.

 

Check out the rest of this series!

The Competitive Style

The Avoiding Style

The Accommodating Style

The Compromising Style