One of my colleagues was talking in a board meeting about his interactions with state legislators.
“I’ve had several very nice telephone conversations with them. Heck, I’ve even run into one of them at Publix!”
He was very positive about the availability of the politicians and their willingness to talk, but not so much about the actions that came after the conversations.
“They always seem to be very attentive to the fact that local issues need to be addressed at the state level, but when it comes to voting time…”
In this season of presidential primaries and soon the general election cycle, we often see this disconnect.
Politicians are a very socially present and media-focused example of Everyman.
No matter the nationality or the political party or the particular leaning towards one issue or another, they have one thing in common. They use political speak to interact with the world.
Have you noticed these things?
They never, and I mean never, answer the question directly.
They are constantly making promises that they must know, and we must know, they can never keep.
As my coworker alluded to, they often say one thing in conversation but do another entirely different thing when voting time comes and the rubber meets the road.
And Lord, don’t they say what they think we want to hear! After all, one does not get elected by saying unpopular things, promising nothing, and caring about no one.
As we have most clearly seen in the past week, when contentious issues finally hit the House or Senate floor, politicians are hard pressed not to vote the way their benefactors want them to vote. Notice I did not say constituents. I said benefactors.
Votes, therefore laws, come out of the pursuit of tangible and recurring support, not from conscience, personal conviction, personal values, or the expressed will of the constituents.
Now, before you think that I am writing this morning just to bash politicians (I am not) or that this is a political blog (it is not), let me ask you this.
Do we not do exactly the same thing with our coworkers, friends, and family? How so?
We are often not honest in our communications. This may be purposeful, or it may be purely unconsciously motivated.
We think one thing silently and say another aloud or in public.
We sugar coat things, thinking that we are saving someone from the awful, raw, hurtful, powerful truth.
We do not hit problems head on, but dance around them, avoiding them, pushing them away, or even ignoring them.
We do not see reality for what it is. We see things the way we wish they were, but sometimes that is so far from the truth it’s not even close.
We are people pleasers in the worst possible way. We say things not out of love or caring, but out of our own agendas.
We say things that we think will protect the feelings of another, all the while robbing them of that most pleasant human experience, honest communication.
We trot out our public persona in the modern day digital public square, gilded and regal and opulent and grand, knowing in our hearts that the emperor has no clothes.
What to do? How to correct this terrible miscommunication and the conscious or unconscious need to say one thing but mean or do another?
Again, lest you think I am being frivolous and trite, this is not easy. It is hard, strenuous, emotionally dangerous work. It is sometimes painful. It sometimes requires apologies, backtracking, redaction and conciliation.
Try your best to be honest. Simple. Fresh. Extremely difficult to do when honesty is not mainstream, popular, or in your own best interest.
Answer the question. I don’t give a rat’s ass about your ability to be glib. Answer the damned question.
Say what you really think and feel, not what you think they want to hear. Believe me, I know how hard this is. I’ve been writing for decades. Blogging for years. There are many people who like to read what I write and that agree with me. There are others that think I’m an idiot. That’s not my problem. If if have something to say, I write it.
Say no. Say no. Just say no.
That being said, say yes! More often, in more places, to more things. (Read Shonda Rhimes wonderful book Year of Yes)
Strive very hard to communicate, not just to talk.
Strive very hard to understand first, then to be understood.