The confetti has been swept from winning campaign headquarters across the nation, but the high emotions that came with the 2008 elections linger like outdated campaign signs. Now is the time for the victors to diplomatically repair rifts and enlist their opponents' help in moving toward a greater good.
For the vanquished, it is important to shift focus and remember solidarity and respectful regard can go a long way toward healing a divided nation. Confrontational attitudes and prejudices can cripple nations, communities, companies and families in equal measure.
If individuals don't work through differences, attempts to meet shared challenges are futile. Cooperation and goodwill are what lead to healing and growth.
In the workplace, a coworker may get the promotion you wanted, or a new manager may shake things up, making decisions that benefit some but are detrimental to others. Both situations are beyond your control yet can still leave you feeling displaced and frustrated.
You may now feel animosity toward a person you recently shared jokes with at the water cooler, or vice versa. It's a vicious cycle that, once begun, is difficult to break.
Falling out with a family member or friend happens to all of us, often over differences of opinion on subjects that, in hindsight, are trivial. So instead of focusing on areas of contention, why not focus on commonalities? We are all affected by the current economic environment, so why waste energy on derision when empathy and compassion create a much brighter vision?
You have a choice about how to react when a disagreement develops over touchy topics like money, religion or politics. You can avoid certain people, steer clear of hot-button topics, agree to disagree, or you can choose to focus on shared beliefs, values and opinions.
Empathy and understanding expand knowledge, stimulate new ideas, and can even change your views about people and the world around you. When you are connected to positive energy, others feel it and feed off of it.
There are a host of things that might set off your emotional triggers. But your hurt feelings may not be about a particular comment or behavior so much as they are about you needing to establish control, be right, get noticed, or feel valuable.
Wise people have said it's a good idea to not take anything personally. Hurtful statements are a reflection on the people who say them, not the people who receive their brunt. Emotions run amok can turn a simple misunderstanding into an intractable conflict.
Remembering that thoughtless deeds or comments directed your way are not really about you can take the emotion right out of the equation.
Adversity and confrontation do not build character; they reveal it. Approach every encounter as though it may be your last.
And remember, the next person you have difficulties with or make an uninformed judgment about might be your next multimillion-dollar merchant. Respond thoughtfully rather than react in haste to what people present to you, good or bad.
Coworkers, families, merchants, neighbors and your fellow citizens throughout our great nation will all respond in kind to the energy you give. It takes infinitely less work to be kind and generous, and the rewards will far outweigh the effort.
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