By Lou Kraus
Posted October 5th, 2017
The election is over and President Trump tweets away. Professor Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA, has studied holistic, robust communication and compared to his research what President Trump is doing, naming it the worst way to communicate. He must be appalled.
Tweeting fits the President’s style nicely. For him it creates confusion and keeps his opponents off-balance, because he can keep his statements short, post them when he wants to, and only give the tiniest bits of information. It is very hard to get much out of these tweets. This tactic gives him an advantage over his opponents and fear and anger around the world.
Now that the election is over, most of us have returned to our gossip. We post insults on Facebook and tweet back and forth on Twitter. We criticize and try to figure out who is doing what, who’s going to have the next big idea, who screwed up, etc.
The brain power spent on this futile effort paralyzes us. We let the extremists and politicians fight it out. We feel powerless, ignored, frustrated and angry.
Albert Ellis tells us that as our anger grows, we experience “a negative internal feeling state, accompanied by thinking and perceptual distortions and deficiencies (especially misappraisals and attributions of other people's injustice).” These feelings predispose us to think that the other guy is to blame. “Extremist” groups, conservative and liberal; use this same anger to fuel their followers as they prepare for the next election.
We have seen these negative, misleading and devious tactics for years. Consciously or unconsciously, we have lowered our standards, shrugged our shoulders and voted for whichever guy supports our favorite issue, or is the lesser of two evils.
Unfortunately, the players in this drama have forgotten several things:
1. The anger that they are creating, at some point, will become overwhelming and uncontrollable. We already have a shooting a day somewhere in the world. If we don’t do something, the violence will engulf us all.
2. They will still pour more money into our broken election system, and no doubt, we will get the same deadlock and patchy results we have been getting for years.
3. The new crop of candidates will have to learn to navigate our very broken governmental system and as they play the game “The Bad Guys across the Aisle” with angry incumbents they will pass more of the same fragmented legislation that got us into this mess.
This can’t go on if our democracy is to survive. But all we see on the horizon is a change in the players and whether our government is conservative or liberal. The pendulum swing is making me dizzy.
Better Outcomes worldview is based on people. Our foundations lie in social work and psychological theory as well as what science is telling us about ourselves. We are looking for people who understand that civil discourse and cooperation are the only way to get back on track. We need Statesmen, like we used to have, not the Politicians we have now.
Many organizations have published materials and books about civility. Generally, I agree with Deborah Tannen, who said in her book, “The Argument Culture”, “They are like honey on toast.”
We start by using mediators and their usual guidelines, along with our 10 steps to eliminate Evil Speech from political campaigns, which we modeled on the writings of Rabbi Yisroel Meyer Kagan from the Old Testament. We have begun to extract from his voluminous ethical work clear, direct material that can be studied individually or in groups. We intend to produce programs for schools and other groups as our organization grows.
Marshall Rosenberg, PhD, created Nonviolent Communication from his experience as a psychologist, mediator, author and teacher. His work looks like an easy change to the way that we conduct a conversation. But as you look further, there is much more to what he wrote and in his work is the power to change the world.
The Bottom Line The Media, marketing executives, politicians and their handlers and other celebrities, our society’s role models, use our emotions to manipulate us, to get us to do something that they want us to do for therm. We have the ability to rationally control our emotions. It is the newer part of our brains, the prefrontal cortex, which provides “Executive Control”. (10, p 116-7) We can use it to allow ourselves to make better decisions about who we elect to represent us. In order to do that we have to take control of the context in which we make those decisions.
The first step is to give all candidates a chance, not just those picked by the Elephants and Donkeys and their power brokers. Our Candidate Conversations, Interviews and Town Hall Meetings are designed to do just that. We use trained mediators and ask different questions, more like a job interview. Most of the issues over which we fight, really are two sides of the same coin. Instead of permitting people to battle over them, we prefer to have the candidates show us how they can cooperate with each other, more like they should be doing when they are in office. We can change the negative environment we live in and make it more positive.
We are looking for people, organizations and candidates who understand what we are trying to do and want to learn more about our Candidate Conversations, Interviews and Town Hall Meetings.
We are looking for good people. People who understand the power of words. Who have felt the sting of their impact and have come to recognize how they have been changed by the people that have spoken to and about them.
People who understand that we are being fed negativity and anger. People who are frightened at all the anger they see around them and feel trapped by the extremism on either side. People that understand that anger breeds anger.
People who understand that real power comes from combining their personal power with others. People that understand that power over others drags everyone down and depletes everybody’s resources.
People who understand the darkness that holds our capital in its grasp. People who understand that the transparency that we have demanded is farther away now than it have ever been.
People who understand that if we don’t figure out a way to look beyond ourselves and come together around our humanness, not our material possessions, we are doomed.
The paralysis is over. We know the problems and better yet, our model works and we are eager to introduce it to you and your group.
Please call our office at (234) 571-9620 or send an email to LHK@getbetteroutcomes.org