Listen, Empathize, Give A Little

A colleague was talking to me about negotiating and working with others:


He said something I liked: 


Listen, empathize, and give a little. 


Yes, we each have our beliefs and positions on things.


But we don’t live in a vacuum.


Other people have their own views, sensitivities, and wants. 


We have to get along so we can work together, and get things done. 


It starts by listening–not just hearing, but really listening to what the other person is saying. 


But that’s not really enough. 


To really understand the other person, we have to try to empathize with what they are feeling–we need to try to walk in their shoes even if just for a moment. 


But that also isn’t enough. 


We can’t have it all our way–we need to give a little to get a little. 


No one can have everything and have a good relationship like that. 


We need to compromise–as long as it’s not on things of integrity, conviction, or G-d. 


Everything else we have to listen, empathize, and give a little.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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The DIVIDED States of America

Our nation is increasingly polarized with little to no tolerance of others wants, thinking, or actions. 


– First under Obama.


– Then with the election between Hillary and Trump.


– And now over Judge Kavanaugh.


The result has been some of the worst behaviors seen since the Civil War–with not only disrespect, restrictions on freedom of expression, but even threats and actual violence!


This nation is no longer the UNITED States, but much more like the DIVIDED States. 


And that just plays into our enemies hands and could lead us to eventually lose our very democracy to totalitarianism, dictatorship, and tyranny.  


So now may be a good time to review for yourself how many biases are driving your thought processes and behaviors and creating dangerous fundamentalists and extremists all around us instead of thoughtful dialogue, negotiation, and compromise. 


Here are 20 biases that may be affecting you more than you realize:


– Do you overestimate the importance of the information you have or feel good about (Anchoring,  Availability, and Choice-Supportive Biases)?


– Do you seek out and perceive information that simply validates your preconceptions (Information,

Confirmation, and Selective Perception Bias)? 


– Do you overemphasize information that is more recent or recognizable (Recency and Salience Biases)?


– Are you ignoring information that doesn’t “fit your script” (Ostrich Effect/Omission and Conservatism Bias)?


– Are you tied up in the groupthink of your peers (Bandwagon Effect)?


– Do you see patterns in random events or conspiracies that don’t exist (Clustering Illusion)?


– Are you overconfident in your thought process and conclusions (Overconfidence Bias)?


– Do you tend to overvalue the usefulness or success of something, but not recognize its limitations or failures (Pro-Innovation and Survivorship Bias)?


– Do you fail to take risks because you prefer certainty (Zero-Risk Bias)? 


– Does your thinking something will happen actually cause it to happen (Placebo Effect)? 


– Do you use the ends to justify the means (Outcome Bias)?


– Do you judge people by their race, class, gender, religion, sexual preferences, or national origin (Stereotyping)?


– Do you fail to recognize your own biases (Blind-Spot Bias)?


Perhaps if more people would open their minds to information and engage in genuine thinking and critical thinking, rather than a lot of fake news and hype, we would be a far better and stronger nation. 😉


(Source Graphic: Business Insider)

The Easy Way or The Hard Way

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So I like this quote by Carl von Clausewitz:

“War is an extension of politics by other means.”


There is diplomacy and then there is war!


– Diplomacy is soft power–talking, persuading, negotiating, and compromise. 


– War is hard power–fighting/combat using kinetic or cyber-based means.


When diplomacy fails, then war is what’s left to compel the enemy to come around to your way of thinking and do your will. 


As they say, there’s the easy way or the hard way–that’s the dual before the duel.


Either way it gets to resolution. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Manage The Crisis and Don’t Exploit It

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So I heard an interesting thought on crisis management:

“Never let a good crisis go to waste!”


Isn’t that frequently how politicians and lobbyists use the crisis, rather than deal with it. 


In certain cases, some have even been known to actually create the crisis for their ends!


Whether it’s some politicians calling for strict gun control when there is a mass shooting (perhaps infringing on other reasonable 2nd amendment rights) or it’s right to life advocates demanding an end to funding for planned parenthood when some bad people are caught selling fetal body parts and so on and so on.


Maybe these things are the right thing to do–in which case, a very bad event can end up being an impetus for much needed change and thus, can facilitate in transforming society and from that perspective, be a good thing!


But is the change really and necessarily the right thing to do…or is the crisis de jure just an excuse to get what some people wanted all  along.


– Use (exploit) the crisis.


– Maximize the momentum from the crisis.


– Leverage the emotions from the crisis.


– Promptly turn the tables on the issue.


– Leave all compromise and negotiation aside, and seize the moment.


The lesson here is not to just react, because a sudden and impulsive decision may end up being an overreaction and cause negative unintended consequences down the road.


The pendulum tends to shift and swing widely in both directions–neither extreme is good.


Instead well thought policy, use of common sense, maintaining reasonableness, looking at all sides, and a general middle of the road approach usually yields the best results for the most people.


Crisis management should be just that–managing the crisis; the policy should be fully reasoned both before and after. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Conflict – Resolution or Escalation

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So I thought this was interesting on the cause of conflict. 


There are four main parts:


1) Deprivation – You believe that someone is depriving you of something you need or want. This could be something physical like money, or an object or it could be inanimate such as love or respect. The feeling of deprivation is anchored in a real or perceived feeling or being deprived of access to resources or the imbalance who has those resources. 


2) Name – You identify the person you feel is causing you this deprivation. 


3) Blame – You blame them for their role in causing you harm. 


4) Claim – You justify the accusation by anchoring it in a claim that the other person has violated some social norm such as taking something that doesn’t belong to them or violating an agreement you have with them and so on. 


As the conflict comes to a head, it is clear that people are feeling hurt, that there is a desire to correct the situation, and that you are going to confront the (perceived) culprit and make your case on why what they are doing is wrong and how it should be resolved. 


If you have the wrong person in the cross-hairs, your justification is weak or you’re not telling the whole story (i.e. maybe you played a part or harmed the other person too), or the person just won’t give you a fair hearing and sincerely work with you to resolve it, then the conflict may escalate from here.  


Usually, it’s best to listen, empathize, negotiate, compromise, try to be reasonable, and resolve the situation at the earliest point possible.


If there is a greater conflict or risk to either party involved, then heels may get dug in and all avenues to resolving it can be open including legal and even all out war. 


Conflict is no game, but in some cases it may be unavoidable–and then the ramifications can be earth shattering. 


What to do when you’re in a conflict situation? Think before you act, and then think again. 


Ultimately, peace is one of the greatest of blessings. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Left and Right Unite

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So I saw on Facebook, an image of an old, wise, Native American Indian.


And over the image, it reads:

“The left wing and the right wing belong to the same bird.”


That is pretty darn smart–and one of the best things I heard all week!


To many extremist people out there, they seem to have been forgetting this lately.


Also, the agitators don’t seem to let up–does it matter if it’s conspiracy theories or fake news–if it gets the bird in the net for clip-clip.


In an effort to “resist”–or perhaps utterly destroy the opposition–we have put politics above the National interest. 


Yes, politics matter–issues matter–people matter. 


But can the bird fly with only one wing?


Sure, we need to speak up when we see something wrong or that we don’t agree with.

But we also need to discuss, negotiate, and compromise–for Pete’s sake, work together to make the bird stronger and fly further and faster–rather than kill the bird itself. 


Our competitors and enemies have arrows pointed at and are shooting them at our American Eagle.


Will we give them the advantage as we self-destruct with loathing for one another? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Loyalty To Others Vs. True To Yourself

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So after the aborted Healthcare bill to replace failing Obamacare, President Trump tweeted about the alt-right’s lack of support for the bill: 

“We learned a lot about loyalty [today].”


The Freedom Caucus refused to vote with the rest of the Republicans on the 7-year long awaited repeal and replace of Obamacare. 


Instead, they felt it didn’t go farther enough to rescind everything from Obamacare they hated, and they chose to leave Obamacare as the solution for the foreseeable future, rather than get a replacement bill they felt was also subpar.


Whether this was smart or dumb, time will tell. 


– Smart – If down the road, they get a better replacement to Obamacare then what was being offered now. 


– Dumb – If rather than a better replacement, we end up either stuck with Obamacare indefinitely or get an even worse alternative later. 


It’s a little like gambling Vegas–they decided to roll the dice again, rather than leave the table with their winnings. 


Sure, they could end up a bigger winner or they can lose it all, so we’ll see. 


But there is another important question here:


What obligation did they have to be loyal and vote with their party vs. being loyal to their own conscience?


The Democrats have held the line better in terms of voting as block–and hence they have proved superior in many cases in wielding their share of power. 


In contrast, the Republicans have been more divided and hence, they can’t get the votes they need to pass the legislation desired by the right–because somebodies are always holding out for a better deal. 


But Trump represents “The Art of the Deal,”–and a deal usually means negotiation, compromise, and that nobody gets everything they want.


So while everyone should vote and act their conscience, there is also something to be said for loyalty to the team effort. 


If everyone just holds out for what they want, then really that stoneheadedness will result in virtually nothing getting done. 


We’ve all got to give a little to get a little, as long as it doesn’t violate our moral compass, core values, and faith. 


Loyalty also has to do with showing and acting with respect. 


And being disloyal to the team and leadership has ramifications.


Those who seemed as if they were being true to themselves and their constituents–may end up having really let themselves and the others down, and not just Trump and Ryan. 


Finally, loyalty is a two-way street, and I have a feeling Caesar is not yet done with the great treachery that was perhaps so callously inflicted on him and the greater national cause. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)