Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!
Again, I practiced what I preach after reading the above tweet. The first step is to pinpoint the culture bump – in other words something specific that is different from what I would do or, in this case say, in reaction to the people protesting against Trump.
Step twois to describe the behavior. The tweet is his exact words. Step three is to describe my behavior. I read the tweet. Step four is to list my emotions. Upon reading the tweet, I felt shocked, betrayed, angry, fearful, stupid, confused, and hopeless. I realized that I had been hopeful based on the meeting between Obama and Trump and this felt like a destruction of that hope. Step five was to define the universal situation. This was really difficult for me for several reasons (1) I am not in the role of leader – but finally I defined the universal as how a “Leader” responds to people who overtly act out disagreeing with him/her and how that response impacts me. Step six was to describe my behavior in the universal situation. Again, this was a little difficult since I am not the leader but I looked for the same situation with leaders in the past – and what came to mind immediately was a recollection of how I felt when George Bush had responded to 9/11 – I felt secure and a part of something bigger than myself. When I tried to analyze what he had done – he had stood firm and constantly defined the situation in terms of us – we – our. He also gave a bigger picture – He provided a context for understanding – Again, the focus on we – us – our and that we had ONE response together. He was very strong in standing up to wrong doing but did not sacrifice clarity. In short, Bush seemed to me to be bigger than I would be in the situation – his calm and resolve were enormously comforting. I realized that what really bothered me was the emphasis on blaming other Americans (in this case the media) rather than focusing on how to resolve the issue. I really expect my leaders to be “Bigger” than me in responding to problems. Very interesting!
Step seven is to define the meaning for my response. As I think about my ideas listed above regarding George Bush, they mean real leadership skills for me. And when these things are present, I feel secure. Step eight is to have a conversation with the Other about that meaning. How do other folks feel secure with a leader? Do other people expect their leaders to be “Bigger” than themselves? If so, how would that look? What kinds of things specifically would be an example?
Perhaps if those of us (the majority of the American people) have these types of conversations, we would find our common ground again. Culture Bump is simply an approach for beginning the conversation, providing a way to find our own blind spotsrather than pointing them out to one another.
I had a conversation with a family member who voted differently than I did. l didn’t talk about the tweet, but about what I felt were leadership qualities that I want in my leader. I had a number of “ah ha” moments. I clarified my own ideas and moved beyond my emotional reaction to the tweet. In the process, I became aware of things about my family member’s values that had been completely unknown to me. I became aware that we share much of the same basic values while still disagreeing about who we would vote for. And my family member felt the conversation was empowering and nurturing to our relationship as did I. Neither of us changed our mind about who we support, but we certainly felt more connected to one another.