July 16, 2017, Da Lat, Vietnam
Basic psychology has long provided fundamental sound advice for relationship differences. Don’t start out criticizing the other person. Don’t tell them they are wrong. Don’t try to prove you’re right. Don’t give instructions for what they should do better.
Instead, start by listening very carefully to the other person. Repeat back what they said in your own words, giving comfort that you heard correctly and understand. Ask questions only to clarify any points you may not fully understand. You might want to say you understand and respect the other person’s point of view.
Only after all this, you may ask if you could now respectfully present your different view. You may ask the other person to kindly listen as you did, without interrupting or challenging, until you have finished explaining your view.
This is basic psychology, understood by anyone who has been in therapy or has read a book on relationships. Why? Because without this kind of approach, a heated argument will almost certainly escalate in name calling and worse. Criticism will result in hardened positions, eliminating any possibilities for agreement or compromise.
Of course, no matter how courteously and respectfully one approaches the solving of a difference, there is always a chance the other party will infer criticism and react to that inference. But, if this kind of preface is observed, and if the process is repeated during the course of discussions, there is a far better chance of working together to solve the problem or finding a compromise.
Why wouldn’t this basic psychology be the right way for Congressmen and the Presidential administration to deal with their important relationships, relationships with influential politicians of opposing parties?
Note this Trump statement in his address at Liberty University: “Nothing is easier or more pathetic than being a critic, because they’re people that can’t get the job done.”
Many of us are to blame for allowing the acrimonious situation to develop, but no one is more responsible than the person we elected as our President. Along the way to the White House, Donald Trump was demeaning, vicious, and humiliating to all his major opponents. Regrettably, he has either forgotten his promise to “become Presidential,” after the election, or he really just can’t do it.
His continuing targets include all liberal media, but also James Comey, Barack Obama, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, the Mayor of London, Angela Merkel, China, Mexico, and pretty much anyone else who disagrees with him. Hasn’t it occurred to him that he needs votes from the other side of the aisle in order to pass critical legislation, and he needs foreign cooperation in foreign policy objectives? Bullying and demeaning those forces will not open their hearts and minds to compromise and solution.
If our President cannot conduct disagreements with courtesy, if he can’t set an example as the current leader of the free world, I suppose we shouldn’t be confused as to why we continue to degenerate into the deeper and deeper abyss of partisanship and acrimony.
Wouldn’t you agree this is near the top of the list of his failures in leadership at the six month mark? As he said at Liberty University, this may be one of the reasons he can’t seem to get the job done.