By now everyone knows that there were some very uncomfortable and tragic events from last week. Two people in different states killed by the police, and then the next night 5 police officers shot by a sniper at the end of a very peaceful rally.

By Friday there were multiple sides of the issue that were bursting out all over the place. None of the groups seemed to want to find a reason to get along, as the only thing everyone could do was blame each other.

Initially it led me to do this video, which I released on Sunday, appropriately called “We Need To Have A Conversation“:


https://youtu.be/HuJM0v5TQtY

Not like I thought I would change the world, but I had to have my say on the matter. As a leadership and diversity person who writes a blog and has written some books here and there and talks all the time about the importance of communication, I figured I had to say something to help diffuse things just a little bit in my own corner of the world.

Unfortunately, my corner got crowded because of social media, and I blame a lot of that on myself. I started seeing all sorts of posts blaming each other and, of all things, President Obama, and seeing all kinds of news stories that seemed to inflame more than just inform… and for a while there I was feeling first angry and then a bit depressed by it all.

When I was in angry mode, I decided it was time to cull some of my social media connections a bit. I needed to change a big part of the focus of what I was seeing there. Luckily I have the knowledge on how to get it done, especially on Facebook. If this is an issue for you then check out this link from my other blog; it could help your peace of mind.

After that, I decided it was time to try to stop reading many of the news stories, which was a bit difficult because I have news alerts set to come to me via my smartphone. I also see a lot of things on Twitter which, after I stopped sharing I decided to back away from as well.

When the depression part kicked in because of Facebook, because sculpting the feed just isn’t enough, I resorted to tweaking some of the settings via a plugin I use called FB Purity. I had a lot of stuff already blocked but I needed to fine tune it a bit more. I didn’t just eliminate stuff I disagreed with, but a lot of stuff I agreed with as well.

Once I was able to regain some of my equilibrium I was able to come back to what I had said in my video. Even though I had to correct a minor thing at the beginning (I said one of the people was killed in Dallas when it was actually Louisiana), I knew I was spot on in saying that the only way anyone can fix anything is by talking to each other.

The bad thing about social media is that, for the most part, people don’t have to talk to each other. You’re not in the same room, sometimes not even in the same state, and unless you know someone personally really well, things can get out of hand and feelings can get hurt. Actually, the final straw for me was when I tried to be the bearer of a bit of logic and got shot down, only to have another friend of that person say that she was part of the group that was being insulted by that person; ouch!

Peace
Bart via Compfight

You might think that this is a case for trying to solve issues of race relations but it’s not. This is actually what it takes to solve any issues people have with each other. Truthfully, it’s one of the biggest skills leaders need to learn how to perform, if not for themselves then to solve employee disagreements, which naturally crop up from time to time. Without knowing the skills of communication and conversation, not only will employee conflicts never be solved but the leader could end up becoming part of the conflict; that’ll never do.

Back in 1995, South Africa set up what they called the Trust Commission under President Nelson Mandela. Its intention was to get testimony not only from victims of apartheid but from the perpetrators of it. The idea behind it was that if they could get everything out in the open it would help the country heal faster. An addendum was made that if certain factions didn’t testify, then they were fair game for trial and punishment.

Even though it didn’t end up being a perfect system, it did solve a lot of issues and helped a lot of people at the time. A number of people who supported the regime of apartheid did indeed testify and they were given amnesty for their contribution to it. Mandela held firm on that one even though some thought everyone should be punished. It showed the quality of the man, even though some still saw him as a terrorist from the 60’s.

The point here is that if a country like South Africa figured out that having a conversation could help ease the pain and bring some peace after all they went through, then the United States can do the same. By extension, if an entire country can do something like this, then anyone in a position of leadership should be able to at least try to do the same thing.

As my buddy Jesan Sorrells once said, it’s not that sometimes we don’t all get caught up in something that makes us lose our mind. The difference between us and others is realizing we’re caught up in it, knowing how to get ourselves out of it eventually, and then helping others figure their way out of these types of problems.

Ask yourself this question: Do you want a have a conversation to try to resolve conflicts or keep yelling at each other?

I say let’s give peace a chance. Who’s with me?
 

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