Mistrust. Harsh words. Name calling. Heavy sarcasm at someone’s expense. Posturing and positioning. Deceit. Friends who are no longer friends. Lies. Don’t want to hear anymore about it and tired of it all!
All of those apply to our upcoming election.
But I am seeing more and more that these words apply to us – in our workplaces, organizations, schools and lives. We expect some of this behavior from Pre-K and middle school children. But more and more it is everywhere.
I was in a doctor’s waiting room the other day, and a story came on TV about yet another barb the candidates had lobbed at each other. To a person, we all rolled our eyes and mumbled that we couldn’t wait for this to be over. One woman spoke up and said, proudly, that she had pared down her Christmas list this year based on a stance she took on Facebook, and her friends and family that she felt attacked her position. When everything is in social media, on chat or email, or even just on the phone, it is easier to attack and feel attacked. We no longer take the time for open discussion, and rarely is it face-to-face if we do.
I often wonder aloud what happened to MY generation – a generation of do-what-you-want-as-long-as-you-don’t-hurt-me pacifists. We are now offended by everyone and everything, never hear each other’s voices, and feel like we can de-friend at any time based on comments on Facebook or Twitter!
All of this has bled over to the workplace. Media Sales people are always on the run and the pressure is immense. Some make countless calls without really trying to determine (or caring about) the needs of their customers and will the campaign sold to them work. Keeping in touch is by text or email. Internally, there may be mistrust between owners and managers, and AEs and other workerbees. Instead of a team effort, in which everyone from management to sales to production to traffic to on-air has the best interest of the client in mind, there may be posturing if the client is happy, and finger pointing if they are not. With the positioning going on, others may be stepped on. Life in a station is moving so fast, everyone is afraid to admit a mistake (and we all make them), for fear of loss of position.
We see in our candidates the prevailing attitude is that you get ahead by showing how others are lesser beings, instead of getting ahead based on your hard work, good ideas, contributions, and willingness to work with a group for the betterment of all. That attitude is spilling over into our lives.
I don’t know which came first – the change in America with everyone thinking they are right and if you disagree, you are wrong and bad and must be taken down – or the fact that our leaders are behaving this way so it’s ok to punch someone out who cuts you off in traffic. It really doesn’t matter.
I wish we could take a hard look at ourselves and realize we are not helping each other build a stronger base, in which all of us will do better. I wish we could do this in our lives, our workplaces and our election.
If you take anything away from this, please take a few minutes to look around your work, and recognize who, these past week, helped your team. Think about the traffic director, who stayed late to get those spots on. Think about the production folks who changed the copy with each new allegation. Think about
the client you haven’t physically seen in a while. Think about anyone who may not trust YOU because you pointed a finger or didn’t give them credit. This would be a great time to recognize that you couldn’t have survived the political window without them.
We may not be able to change this election. But we can change ourselves and be a part of change in our workplaces and organizations. After all, happiness with others is a lot better than anger, bitterness and distrust alone.