Stepping Back From Polarization

(image via Philippe Leone)

(image via Philippe Leone)

I live in New Hampshire, and right now we are in the middle of "shopping season". With a few weeks to go till the primary, it's a wild ride. I have watched more than my fair share of political commentary and presidential candidates, and one thing I have observed is that everyone talks about how polarized we are, but very few seem to know how to act differently.

Here is a clue.

In matters of substantial difference, don't question people's intentions, question their judgment. If your goal is to minimize the amount of polarization that exists in our culture, carefully watch your language. Questioning intention is often seen as an attack on integrity, and while you may feel passionately about your point of view, everyone feels that their intentions are good. No matter what.

Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, all have one thing in common...they believe that their way is the right way. Challenging why they feel the way they do is red meat to a dog. Questioning what was done instead, and the judgment behind an action, while not always welcome, will allow for honor to remain intact.

Tonight flip the channels between CNN, Fox and MSNBC. Notice how often a candidate's integrity is questioned. Then ask yourself, how often in my daily life do I do the same? Remember, polarization is less about position than it is about tone.

LeadershipDavid Baum