I would love to be a fly on the wall when Democratic strategist James Carville and his Republican commentator wife, Mary Matalin end their day. No, I am not talking about their sex life. I'm curious about their fighting style.
They must have figured out how to "fight" in a very different way at home than they do at work. Otherwise, contempt would most likely have already destroyed their marriage.
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Red state-blue state battles are ubiquitous these days. Try turning on your television, radio or any i-device. Go to church, synagogue, Starbucks or the movies. Venture out to the office, a family dinner or read your Facebook page. Just notice how long it takes to find someone who is willing to tell you, with absolute certainty, why their presidential candidate is the true and living candidate who will provide all the answers for a broken country.
The fighting style of our culture at large is so mean-spirited and nasty. Equally appalling is that we reward our political candidates for their participation in the bloodier aspects of the game. Negative campaigning works.
Political candidates are essentially saying to the American people: Have a relationship with me and I will make your life better. I think we can tell a lot about them by the way they fight and by watching them, we can learn how not to fight as well as how to fight more effectively.
Maybe it is too late to have a civilized political exchange, but perhaps we can extract some communication lessons from the macro level for people to use on a micro level. Here's how:
1. Avoid sarcasm while arguing. Notice what you feel toward a candidate or his/her surrogate when they make a sarcastic remark. That is a big deal-killer. Sarcasm is a bad communication strategy in any arena. It is indirect, smug, one-up and mean. It is far more effective to say it clear, clean and directly.
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2. Be straight forward with your perspective. How do you feel when a candidate catastrophizes? Or in other words uses wild hyperbole to make a point about "what will happen if ... " This is a very immoderate and hysterical way to communicate. Instead, why not lay out a clean, straight-forward case for your perspective, then make an earnest request for what you want.
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