Many if not most people want to cheer for or identify with the wining team; to “come out on top” or simply, to win an argument– And most of us DISLIKE being wrong. The question is, what are we like when our team does NOT win, or more simply, when we feel no one is listening to us at that moment when we KNOW WE ARE RIGHT?
Our current political campaign is a magnification of these basic human needs — to be seen, to be heard, to be affirmed. And finally, to be RIGHT. And too many people are in angry conflict mode — the ability to dialogue lost in the shuffle. If you’re on the “critical end” of this phenomenon, watching the TV coverage, and feeling annoyed by the bad behavior of others, step back and examine your response to “more common encounters with not getting what you want.”
Visualize the last time you sat on hold to talk to your insurance company about a claim– or your bank or credit card company about a problem you’re having…..How long does it take for you to become impatient? To grow irritated? To perhaps become critical, angry or just short tempered with the real live person who finally answers? Are you clear about what happens to your otherwise “calm, kind, understanding self”? Or do you carry that frustration around with you throughout your day?
We are “hard wired” for protective, defensive thoughts, statements, beliefs. Most of us can FEEL it coming and calm ourselves because we know we aren’t at risk — beyond not getting what we WANT. Take your understanding of yourself into politics….and the rallies and demonstrations we are seeing. What happens when dozens and dozens of people recognize and bond around the same kind of personal frustrations/intense anger — but lack the internal ability to calm themselves?
AND imagine what happens when that level of discord is encouraged? Or discouraged? The individual or group “in charge” has the responsibility to do something. The responsibility of a LEADER is to encourage calm, to re-direct angry energy, to model an effective way to talk about differences, and to help the group see ways to act and solve problems vs escalate differences.
Clearly this is not happening in many of the rallies we see. Concern is growing. Paul Staniland, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Chicago co-founded the school’s program on political violence and said, “I spend too much time studying violence not to get a pit in my stomach thinking about how this could all spiral.”
Read more in my book YOUR PERSONAL STRESS ANALYSIS.
Listen to Dr. Linda Moore and Mike Manko discuss how strong believe can lead to anger and even rage on the SteveAndMikeRadio.com podcast.
What should we do? Examine your own responses. Talk to friends and colleagues about positive, healthy responses. Be a leader in any conversation you have. Make a difference and encourage dialogue — everywhere you can.