You may not use the word “civil discourse” in daily conversation much but you engage in it all the time. It’s the act of talking with others with a goal of attaining understanding. Isn’t that what all of us want from our conversations? The ironic thing is that we often sabotage understanding by injecting the conversation with limiting terms that we don’t realize are coming out of our mouths. In this episode of Leaders, Bosses, and Bastards I’m chatting with my friend Laura Huffman about the importance of truly civil discourse, why we need to revive the idea in our day and age, and how one three letter word can change the dynamic of our conversations in amazing ways.
As I chatted with my friend Laura Huffman on this episode of Leaders, Bosses, and Bastards she explained how conversations go from constructive to destructive with the use of one little conjunction, the word “or.” It’s a word that automatically forces a choice, a decision about one thing over another and as Laura points out, the world simply doesn’t work that way all the time. If you want to learn how to become mindful of a very simple but powerful way you can change the tone and direction of the conversations you have, this episode is for you.
Some people use polarization as their stock in trade. Cable News talk show hosts or reporters, for example. Their job is to magnify the tension in a situation to create a sense of sensationalism that lures in viewers or readers. But that same approach applied in daily life or in the culture of an organization is never helpful. Laura Huffman explains why polarization happens, the mindsets behind it, and the cultural falsehoods that convince us that we should speak in polarizing terms on this episode of Leaders, Bosses, and Bastards. I hope you take the time to listen.
There are many things that can escalate a conversation from a calm discussion of the facts and outcomes of a situation to a heated debate or disagreement. One of those things is the use of the word “or” instead of the word “and.” In this conversation, Laura Huffman gives quite a few examples of how the use of the word “or” in conversation forces people into a place of choosing when in fact it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. When Laura opens your eyes to how toxic the practice can be and how often you insert the word “or” into conversations yourself, you’ll be eager to modify the way you approach conversations moving forward. I know I was.
People like Laura Huffman encourage me, simply because of their optimism. Laura is one of those people who believes that human beings thrive on solving problems more than making them. And she believes that the direction our culture has gone when it comes to personal interactions – toward sensationalism rather than fact-based problem solving – is something we must collectively address and learn to improve. She believes that as we begin to notice the small but significant things that downgrade the quality of civil discourse we can begin to make course corrections that will serve our society better and produce long-lasting fruit. Laura’s a person I respect greatly so I ask you to take the time to listen to this short, 20-minute episode.