6 min read

How We Treat Each Other Reflects Who We Are

How We Treat Each Other Reflects Who We Are

Values, communication, and respect in the dark ages of Trump.

What's wrong in the world?

What's wrong is that I'm seeing far too many issues with people who,

  • Seem to have a god-complex;
  • Think they're right, and you're wrong (discussion not optional), and;
  • Seem to fight only for what they believe in, ignoring logic in place of emotional connections, ideology, or faith.

This makes me wonder, as human beings are we actually in control of our minds?

People can be assholes.

At worst we are all complicit in turning the backside of our character to face others. Why are we so mean or disrespectful towards others? Why don't we realize that this is actually a lack of self-respect?

When we attack, harass, bully, defame, or call someone names, it is a poor reflection of our own self image. It is a sad reflection of our emotional weaknesses and emotional intelligence.

Reading the above you might think I'm being an asshole and blaming others. That's the furthest thing from what I want to express. I am only able to express and teach from what I’ve experienced, and what I'm learning.

Hopefully I will master what I'm learning, but not in the sense of being better than anyone else. I seek to master what I learn in the sense of internalizing and recognizing my own faults and weaknesses at the same time. We need to own up to what we have done wrong, and be open to the truth of all possible variations within a problematic scenario.

It's easy to go down the path of anger, and attack.

That's bred into us physiologically and genetically. The oldest parts of our brain, the amygdala and the mammalian brains, serve to keep us safe and comfortable. They react instantly and seemingly without logical, conscious thought. They most always override the pre-frontal cortex, the so-called thinking or logical brain.

It's often in the moments after the ancient brain has calmed down that we realize the error of our actions. That error is human nature. However, we can practice how to sit in that gap between our unconscious ancient brain of response/reaction, and our conscious, logical brain response.

I'm not saying this is easy! I have gotten better at it, but it's always a work in progress.

People can also lift others up.

Lift - The Fundamental State of Leadership

Currently I'm reading, Lift: The Fundamental State of Leadership by Ryan W Quinn and Robert E Quinn.

I'm not all the way through, but the core lessons taught by the authors are the importance of how we communicate and lead others. There are two lessons I want to reference.

The first is a series of four questions that can help you look at a situation to determine an effective and positive outcome for all involved.

These four questions are (copied verbatim):
  1. "What result do I want to create? (When people answer this question to become less comfort-centred and more purpose-centred.)"
  2. "What would my story be if I were living the values I expect others? (when people answer this question they become less externally directed and more internally directed.)"
  3. "How do others feel about the situation? (When people answer this question they become less self-focused and more other-focused.)"
  4. "What are three (or four or five) strategies I could use to accomplish my purpose for this situation? (When people answer this question they become less internally closed and more externally open.)"

The second lesson the book discusses is how we are influenced by the energy and behaviour of others in our immediate physical surroundings.

If you walk into a room and someone is in an uplifting state of mind, you respond, mostly on an unconscious level, favourably. Of course, the opposite is also true. When you walk into the room and sense the other person is angry and upset, how does that feel in your body? How does you mind respond? Do you feel calm or defensive?

I would add that virtual connections also apply, given what I've been witnessing online. I've noticed more group-think and mob mentality. People react immediately based on statements that they don't take the time to discern as true or false. They share their mostly angry thoughts, without considering the impact of their words and the effect it will have on other people.

People are afraid to take ownership.

People are so afraid to apologize, to own up to their actions, and to tell someone that they reacted in haste. We are living in an age of instant gratification. Tweet your holier-than-thou opinion and off you go, feeling better-than and self-empowered. #NoFucksGiven if you're wrong.

Just because you've shared your thoughts online, and not in front of another person, doesn't mean your actions won't have repercussions or consequences.

Let's go back in time about 25 years.

It wasn't that long ago that we didn't have cells phones or the Internet. It hasn't been that long since we've had social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The level of technological development and corresponding disruption of the status quo has been exponential over the last three decades.

This has had a profound and problematic impact on healthy and effective communication.

We used to write letters. When you made a phone call 30 years ago, people often didn't have voicemail. Either because that type of virtual storage didn't exist, or people didn't own the physical device to plug into their phone at home.

In other words, if you were corresponding over long distance, it took a great amount of time to receive a response. This gave people more time to consider what they wanted to say, and how they were going to respond.

Now you can publish something online and someone else can comment within seconds.

If you publish something (an article, status update, or a video) that's problematic or emotionally vulnerable, you're most likely in a state of mind worried about other people's reactions. If you receive negative or reactionary feedback within seconds of posting, your reactive, ancient brain gets triggered. Your amygdala fires up, takes control of your logical brain, and fires back with a most dismissive and angry response.

Re-evaluate how you want to be treated.

I'm not suggesting that sitting down for a few hours and getting clear on your values is going to solve all these problems.

I am suggesting that not enough people have given consideration to what they most value about communication, and how they wish to be treated when spoken to.

The latter is where essential humanitarian values live.

If you have ever felt bad about how you spoke to someone or treated another person, that's a sign you were not congruent with one of your core values. If you don't know what your core values are, it might be time to do the deep work and figure them out. This is an important part of the work I do with my clients during the Design: Evaluate Stage of my ADD Coaching Methodology.

The challenge with reactionary emotions is discerning whether or not you're in conflict with your core values.

It's difficult to know if you're actually doing the best thing possible, in that moment. Some actions we take don't feel great, even though they're necessary. The emotion of compassion can be one of those conflicting feelings.

Straight-up compassion is one thing. But what if you have to take a particular action that feels like a difficult choice, e.g. like requiring or asking someone to act in a better manner? You may be in a leadership position as a manager directing or disciplining an employee, or dealing with someone you collaborate with.

You may direct that person to do something out of necessity, or because of improper actions they have taken in the past, but you are doing it out of compassion. Most likely this won't feel good, but that is the Catch-22 with the emotion of compassion. Sometimes the more the decision hurts, or the more you struggle with it, the more deeply you experience compassion.

Doing what's right or making the best choice in a situation doesn't always feel great.

When you take action based on your core values, you are taking ownership for your decisions made in conjunction with those values.

It's from the foundation of your core values that you can lead others in you communication. The more you are in alignment with your core values, the more you will respect other people's ideas, feelings, and character.

Making the world a better place starts with you, and it starts with me.

Change starts with the individual. This change needs to be practiced continuously in order for us to improve and evolve our communication. We need to choose to do this together, on a conscious level, and with compassion – not just for others, but for ourselves.

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash