Thursday, November 8, 2012

Politics make people mean.

I'm absolutely sure most of everyone is drained by the mental exhaustion of absorbing the overwhelming news, feedback and discussion about the election this year. However - during all this I observed many interesting things that have inspired to write. In essence, what about the elections makes people show their true colors? And why are they unable to debate about politics in sensible and humane ways? You ready for the answer? People don't know how to utilize assertive communication.

This is what it all comes down to. People are unable to express their opinions in an assertive way versus aggressively trying to force their feelings and thoughts down another individual's throat.



What is assertive communication?
The Mayo Clinic (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/assertive/SR00042) defines assertive communication as

Being assertive means that you express yourself effectively and stand up for your point of view, while also respecting the rights and beliefs of others. 


In other words, assertive communication is simply being able to express your needs and/or concerns while still considering/respecting others needs and/or concerns. It's a way to share with someone one how you feel, why you feel that way, and if there is an issue, what the best solution is.

From my observation it seems that individuals, especially on social media sites (and even in reality), are aggressively (and even viciously) attacking other supporters because they simply don't agree with their perspective. Naturally, when a person feels attacked they must defend themselves. And from all of the negative, harmful and hurtful things I've read, most people are using defense mechanisms like:
  • Acting Out (being unable to express thoughts cordially and behaving in a way that will substitute for the inability to express it)
    • Obama being elected and angry non supporters set fire to his signs.
  • Projection (unaware of your own feelings, you project your behaviors onto someone else)
    • "I can't believe Obama is president, he's unfair and racist, and anyone else who likes him is racist too!!"
  • Displacement (unable to express your feelings to the person whom you really are upset at and taking it out on someone else readily available)
    • Client A was so angry that Obama was elected that he went on Facebook and called a supporter a derogatory name.
Assertiveness is also a defense mechanism, however it's a mature and positive defense mechanism that most people often overlook in debates.

OK, so you may be reading this thinking "I may be one of those people!" or most likely using displacement thinking "So and so, really needs to read this article!" :) Either way, here are some brief tips on to utilize assertive communication:
  • Clearly state your thought: In a non offending way express your thought. Use 'I' statements. 
  • Offer an explanation for your thoughts: Provide whatever supporting facts as to why you feel/think the way you do.
  • Acknowledge the others persons response: When they respond, whether favorably or unfavorably, validate their opinion. To validate does not mean you agree, it means you can understand and appreciate the person's opinion and THE fact your opinions disagree.
Also, I've seen some pretty nasty things said about people and to people. And you know what, we can all benefit from being the assertive and "bigger person", if you have said something hurtful to someone, send them a message and use some assertive communication to apologize. After all, the electoral college really makes the vote! (LOL)

Ciao.