I watched “Meet the Press” last weekend, and in one segment they interviewed average Americans about the first presidential debate. One man’s thoughts, “We don’t know how to have a conversation anymore.”
I don’t disagree. There are lots of reasons for this in 2020. Let’s look at a few…
- There is polarization. Opinions are strong. Leaders talk over each other. There’s not a lot of listening going on. The desire to be understood is stronger than the desire to understand others or find a resolution. (I admit I’m guilty of this on certain social issues when I disagree with every fiber of my being.)
- This is all new. People are dealing with circumstances they’ve never experienced before. A coaching client recently said work-life balance doesn’t exist anymore—everything’s just blurred together. Another client said they never imagined needing more contact with co-workers because they’re feeling so isolated at home.
- Uncertainty creates fear. Nobody knows when the pandemic will end, the economy will improve, or the outcome of the election. When people operate from a place of fear or anxiety, fuses can be short. Conversations between even the closest colleagues can be strained. And combining fear or anxiety with relationships that are already low on trust? Well, that’s where things can go downhill exponentially fast.