“They are clearly wrong.”
In the past few years, this mindset has become the covert, and sometimes overt, message between competing entities of all types. This includes political parties, candidates at all levels, and even fans of sport teams. I have seen this in business as well.
For instance, I was driving recently listening to talk radio stations. On the sports stations, most of the callers spent their time talking about what was wrong with their rival team. There were claims of cheating, favoritism, racism, lucky breaks, and even illegal activities. The claims were made somewhat equally against both teams in the rivalrly.
Then I spent some time listening to a national political talk radio show. This was not as balanced and most callers were simply supporting the talk show host’s views. A couple of callers that simply asked questions about these expressed views were blasted. Apparently, if you don’t completely understand and agree, you are an idiot. It was basically one big pep rally instead of a thoughtful discussion or an exchange of viewpoints.
So what does this have to do with effective communication? Listen carefully and you’ll hear that the type of behavior these callers exhibited is all too common in daily conversations.
Are the radio shows teaching this behavior or are they simply a reflection of our society? I don’t know but I would guess the answer is each is true to an extent. And the situations feed each other, as what we commonly hear becomes what we commonly accept or repeat.
But do these types of “conversations” accomplish much? I don’t think so. First off, when you hear anyone that spends most of their words bashing someone else, they typically are not having a conversation. They are having a one-sided rant. Their goal is not to share information, to win converts, to make a sell, get hired, or learn. No, their goal is to win, to be right, to prove someone else wrong, and to drown out dissenting voices through brute force.
Of course, sometimes this approach is not overly obvious unless you are paying attention. Some private agendas lead people to use more passive-aggressive approaches, sarcastic comments, and hidden rumors to destroy competing thoughts.
I contend that such an aggressive or passive-aggressive approach may make for interesting theatrics but rarely helps share a message, sell a project, find a job, or create progress.
While joining in the mob may seem like a powerful thing to do since there is strenght in numbers, be aware there is a big difference between brainwashing and understanding. If you want to be understood, don’t talk to those unwilling to listen. If you want to learn, listen to more than those who already agree with you.
Glenn S. Phillips is the author of the book Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself. You can email Glenn directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glenn is also the president of Forte’ Incorporated, a consulting firm that works with business leaders to understand and address the often hidden technology and business risks lurking within their organizations.
© Copyright 2012. Glenn S. Phillips, Forte’ Incorporated. (205) 985-1111