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“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” ~Stephen Covey

Last year I posted a picture on Facebook that said “When both the Republican establishment and the Democratic establishment attack the same candidate, then you know you’ve found your guy!” I thought it was catchy and thought provoking. To be honest, neither my wife nor I noticed the little circle in the corner that said “Trump 2016”. Other than posting the picture, I made no personal comments. Within minutes there were people asking if I had lost my mind. Then came a number of attacks on Donald Trump, ranging from comments on his business savvy to questioning his sanity, intelligence and ability to lead.

After that, there were comments supporting Trump. Of course, that just added fuel to the flames.

Something tells me that if I posted a Bernie Sander 2016, or Hillary Clinton 2016 message, the response would have been similar, but from the other faction.

These comments were from my friends, and I do not fault them for their passionate comments, but it was interesting that no one asked me my opinion, or why I posted it. They didn’t even ask if I was a Trump supporter. Thinking about this I remembered Stephen Covey’s words “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

As I write this, Trump has been elected President, but there is still as much or more controversy than there was in November 2016.

There will always be conflict, but if we are to build relationships and find winnable solutions, we need to understand each other. Attacking a person’s intelligence before having any idea why they have done something is ALWAYS counter-productive. If we are to help one another and grow into a winning team, it HAS to come from a place of understanding.

Over the last several months I have diligently tried to be respectful, and ask others for their opinion… even, ESPECIALLY when they differed from my own. Sometimes their comments have helped me to grow and to reach new understanding. That would not have happened if I had alienated them by immediately attacking them.

Please give this some thought. The presidential election is over, and we will need to work together, so let’s not make enemies, because the people we attack today may be the people who can help the most in the future.

Perhaps this has become the new “us” vs “them” prejudice – Democrat or Republican. To be strong, and UNITED, we must learn to seed first to understand one another, then to be understood.

This is also true in the workplace. I have seen companies divided by gender, race, cultural background and education. Almost every manufacturing company I’ve worked with had a “shirts” (degreed professionals) vs. “mindless resources” (blue collar workers) mentality.

Then next time you strongly disagree with someone, ask them to explain their position with a real effort to understand. Paraphrase it back and make sure they agree that you understand. THEN explain your own position in a clear manner. Even if they continue to disagree, they will appreciate your effort. In time, they may even change their position if your logic makes sense.  

Have a great day everyone!