As I watch the political process, I wonder if very many politicians really understand how to build consensus and to reach joint decisions that protect the interests (as much as possible) of everyone involved.
I see leaders from all sides of the political process investing great energy in staking out positions and then defending those positions. I don’t honestly know what goes on behind closed doors. I can only comment on the results I see and what they say in public.
I don’t really want to get into an open-forum debate about the positions that our political leaders take. I just want to point to a set of behaviors I see as poisoning efforts to reach mutually beneficial solutions.
In a world ruled by parliamentary procedure and public opinion polls, maybe their behavior is to be expected. Nonetheless, how they typically approach problem solving is full of problems that poison the conflict resolution process.
Here are the top five problems I see in much political debate:
- Stating opinions as facts.
- Starting with proposed solutions rather than seeking agreement on the problem statement.
- Staking out positions rather than seeking common ground.
- Attacking the character or intent of the opposing party.
- Focusing on “winning” over “resolving.”
There are probably many reasons why these behaviors surface in political discussions. I suggest that we should avoid them in our personal and business relationships.
I don’t know that these guys are necessarily politicians. They do behave in a way that illustrates my point: