The killing of five policemen in Dallas last night is the latest in a long list of sensationally sad stories to hit the national news. Tragedy also hits on a local level. Sixty people were shot and four fatally wounded in Chicago over 4th of July weekend. Pick any place in the world and you will find someone who is approaching a boiling point when it comes to their hatred or anger of someone or something.
What can a positive leader do to reduce this kind of violence? At first, you might be thinking, “not much!” While it may be true that most individuals cannot have an immediate impact on THE WORLD, there are some positive actions you can take that will make YOUR world a better place.
First, leaders at every level must get much better at helping themselves and others resolve conflicts the positive way. Shouting or shooting at someone is not the answer. Remaining silent and hoping the problem goes away is not an effective strategy either.
A few months ago, I shared a positive process for resolving conflicts. Click here to learn more. Practice that process daily or develop one of your own. Buy a book on conflict resolution and apply what you learn to your life. Google “a positive approach to resolving conflict” and you will find over 555,000 articles on the subject. Read one and put those ideas into action. Do whatever you need to do to help yourself and others get better at resolving conflicts in a positive way. It’s okay to disagree; it’s not okay to be disagreeable or just hope the conflict disappears.
Second, facilitate daily dialogues…not discussions. The word dialogue comes from the Greek root dialogos which suggests I want your meaning to flow through me. Discussion comes from the same root as concussion and percussion meaning I’m going to beat you over the head with my idea until you agree with me. Dialogue is a process of transforming the quality of a conversation from who’s right to what’s right. In true dialogue, people learn to listen to each other without judgment. The goal is not to win the agreement, but rather to understand the other person’s point of view, find common ground and then create a better solution. Discussions result in an unhealthy debate where people defend their opinions and attack their opponents.
Daily dialogues also prevent small issues from growing into major problems. Remember, it was the last straw that broke the camel’s back…not the first one.
Third, mentor a millennial. Millennials are defined as young adults between ages 18-34. There are 75.4 million individuals in this group and they have recently surpassed the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69). Many of these young, talented people are dealing with conflict and they have no idea how to resolve it in a positive way. It’s also startling to realize that the majority of hate crimes in the nation are committed by people between the ages of 15 and 24. These young adults need your positive influence.
Resolving your conflicts the positive way and helping others do the same is a subject worthy of rigorous study, but you only get better at it when you put what you learn into action.
Whatever you choose to do to get better at resolving your conflicts the positive way may seem insignificant, but do it anyway. You and the people you want to engage, influence and encourage will be glad you did.
Let’s Get Better. Together! Bill Durkin