October 18

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Conflict and Communication

Facebook is hardly the place for civil discussion. But I couldn't help myself this time.

A long-time Facebook friend goes on blunt, political rants every few days. How a certain politician and party is a danger to American democracy, and how we can't allow this.

The comments are either some version of "right on" or outright offended.

And what I didn't see? An interesting discussion or a mind changed.

So, I decided to comment myself.

Me: So, what's something effective that I can do as an individual?

Friend: Vote for the ones who will defend democracy.

Me: Then what?

Friend: Hope they win.

I decided to stop there. Based on my previous Facebook experience with touchy subjects, I knew this was as far as we were going to get.

So, I'll share more thoughts here, in this much more civil place. (*wink*)

Politics are a great example of how communication breaks down when it comes to conflict. People scream about their politics all the time. And the results are always the same.

The people who agree say "right on." 

The ones who disagree say "you suck" or don't respond.

So what's the point? Other than to build a feel-good narrative that somehow you're solving the problem by shouting it from the rooftops?

A much more interesting approach would be to tackle it from a place of empathy. To ask, why would people vote for the bad guy? What does that person need? What is that person afraid of? How does that person feel about democracy?

And then, to speak to those needs, fears, and beliefs with kindness...and reality-based information.

It may still not work. But it's more interesting than cursing and bashing.

And we already see enough of that on TV.

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About Jonathan Roberts

I am the founder and director of the South Shore Piano School, and I have been teaching the piano for nearly 20 years. My work centers around bringing music to the lives of kids, parents, and adults in an enriching, meaningful way. At the South Shore Piano School, my incredible colleagues and I accomplish this through skill-based teaching, community, and an innovative, people-first business model. You can read more about me here.


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