Beat Down Burnout

Healing the Divide in Our Country Starts with Healing Relationships

It’s been a rough couple of weeks, for everyone. We have had an historical election. Record numbers of people turned out to vote-on both sides. There was no landslide victory. There remains confusion about the transition, and for some, even about the results of the election. That’s not what I’m here to discuss today. That’s a rabbit hole I’m not willing to go down. Not me, not today. What I want to talk about will be hard enough, I think. What I want to discuss is healing the divide in our Nation. That starts with healing our relationships.


Yes, I went there. We need to heal our relationships. I suspect that each and every one of us has people that we have blocked, or unfriended, either on social media or in real life, over the pandemic or politics in the past 12 to 24 months. If you haven’t, then congratulations! Good for you. For the rest of us, it is time to work on patching up those relationships.


Raise your hand if this makes you uncomfortable. It does me. Raise your hand if your first thought is Hunh-Unh, no way, not me. None of this was my fault. I was in the right. I don’t want to talk to those people, be their friends, or even acknowledge they exist. Well, guess what. You’re not alone. But that’s why we have a problem. That’s why we have a divide in this country. That is why, even though the Biden-Harris ticket won by 5M votes, over 70M people in this country voted against them. We aren’t going to heal this divide by being stubborn, spiteful, or isolating ourselves from people whose opinions differ from ours. Instead, we have to do the next right thing.


To heal this divide, we are going to have to reach out and heal those relationships. Each one of them. Now, I know that I have friends right now who are yelling at me as they’re watching. Fine. Go ahead and tell me what you think. Don’t just yell at the screen. Let’s get some dialogue going. Evelyn, I know you’re one of them. You’re very good with words. Write them down and tell me how hard this is going to be for you. I am sure you are not the only one on this feed who has suffered a divide within your family. Some of you have disowned family and friends because you feel it is inhumane to vote for someone who would take away another person’s basic human rights. I get that. I can’t vote for someone who would put children in cages. I can’t vote for someone who is racist. I have people tell me all the time that they themselves are not racist, yet they’ll vote for someone who is. They aren’t doing anything to bring about equality. Folks, if you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. This year has made that quite clear. There has been a lot of damage come to light this year.


I’m not talking about the property damage that occurred during the demonstrations. We can talk for days about who caused that and not agree on an answer. No, I’m talking about the damage that triggered the demonstrations. If you are part of the damage that led to those demonstrations, then you are a racist and part of the problem. I think that there are people who have blocked you and unfriended you because of that. There are people who have blocked me and unfriended me for saying this about you. If this triggers you, then say something below. These are the things that we need to mend. These are the relationships that can be saved and moved forward. While still solving the issue of racism. I don’t know how that will be done. I don’t know what it looks like. I just know that it’s the right thing to do. It’s the next thing to do.


In my own family, there are different political parties. I know that some of my family are disgruntled about Biden-Harris winning. Some of them have voiced their displeasure on social media. I’m fine with that. One of my brothers was not. He said something to my nephew, insinuating that my nephew had made an ill-informed choice. The nephew fired back that my brother no longer knew him well enough to make that statement, which is true. During all of this physical distancing we have lost touch with one another. We don’t know each other’s values as well as we would like. Perhaps not as well as we should. We don’t know one another’s hearts. Many people who voted in this election voted out of fear, rather than out of love. They voted out of fear that they were going to lose something. My nephew was afraid he would lose “personal freedoms.” He did not say which personal freedoms he thought he would lose.


Many of us were afraid of losing personal freedoms, either for ourselves or for someone we loved. I suspect my nephew fears losing his guns, but in all honesty, I haven’t asked him. That’s on me. I should ask him. I happen to know a number of Democrats and liberals who own guns. I don’t think either party is going to ask you to give up the guns you currently own. Not anytime soon. I do, however, know a number of people of color, or people with certain gender issues, who want the same job opportunities as white cis people, including job advancement opportunities. They want to be valued at work. They fear going to work, because of snide comments about who they are, what color or gender they were born. I consider that a personal freedom-working without that fear. Do you agree or disagree? I voted for that. I voted to keep children out of cages. I voted for my patients to not go bankrupt paying their medical bills. However, I know LGBTQ people who voted differently than I did. I don’t hate them for that. I don’t understand them, but I don’t hate them. I would like to sit down with them over a cup of coffee and listen to their reasons. My wish would be for all of us to be able to do this without raising our voices or our blood pressure. It may be awhile before that happens, but we can start now. It’s the next right thing to do.


I’m not asking you to be someone other than yourself. I’m not. In fact, to do this well, you need to know yourself well. If you do this without knowing yourself, you will do this out of fear, not love. Fear is a great motivator. It gets people to turn out and show up, but it doesn’t solve problems. Love solves problems.


To do this well, you need to understand yourself, but you also need to understand other people. I mean in a general sense. You need to understand that different people have different values. You need to understand that certain people are more in touch with their feelings than others. In fact, there is one personality type that values relationships, community, teamwork and harmony to the extent that they will lead the way in healing this great Nation. Unfortunately, there are a couple of other personality types that consider this much emotion to be a liability. It’s not. It’s just a different value set. These other two personality types have feelings, they have emotions, they just don’t show them as often. They are the type of people who research how this is going to work, then set up the systems and processes to ensure that it does work. You see, those are their assets and values. The fourth and final personality type looks for the opportune timing to put things into place and pivots at the last minute, if needed.


We need all four of these groups for this to work. We need for everyone to feel like they belong. We need to them to feel valued. We need for them to work together and learn each other’s values and to value one another.  Have you ever sat down and written out your values? Have you thought about the difference between your values and being valued? How about the difference between being valued and what is your own value, or your own worth? You should take some time and do that. Take an hour or two and write down your top 10 values in life. Then, on the same page, write down the top 10 things that you value most. They’re different. Then think about what value you place on yourself. Meditate on that for a while. Think about the fact that every single person on this planet has a value. And values. And values different things.


Our values are what drives us. They drive our wants, our desires, our decisions. They drive our communication with others. They do. We tend to speak to others based on how to get what we desire, what we value. If we value different things than our neighbor, or our family member, then we are going to speak to them based on that desire. We speak based on what we want. But we forget that everyone wants to be valued. Everyone wants to be appreciated. Everyone wants to feel like they belong, especially in their own home, their own country. We have to learn to speak to one another, and to listen to one another, like we all belong here. Right? I have to learn to speak to my neighbor from his or her values. If I don’t, I will never really hear what they have to say. Do you see what I’m getting at? We have to hear with an open heart. We have to learn to speak and listen from other people’s viewpoint, their value-based views.


We cannot move forward and heal our country with hate in our hearts. It has to be done with love. This is how we do it. We learn one another’s values. I’m not asking you to forgive right now. I’m not asking you to respect one another’s viewpoints. Just learn their values. You don’t have to adapt or accept all their values. You don’t have to agree with their values. Just make an effort to learn what they are. Do the little things first. Find common ground. Do you both like cookies? Who doesn’t like cookies? Do you like a cool glass of water on a hot summer day? What about the colors of the sunset? Then, learn their true values, the harder stuff. Once you’ve learned their values, stop attacking one another. If you attack others, then they may never speak their true mind and their true feelings. If they never do those things, you will never get the opportunity to truly listen. Right? Right?  


Seriously, how we approach others, will alert them as to whether or not we really want to listen. Nobody wants to be attacked. In my coaching group, we often ask people, “How do you want to be sold to,” or “How do you want to be approached in a sales situation.” Well, the truth is that nobody wants to be sold to, and that everything is a sales situation. Everyone wants to buy, but nobody wants to be sold to. Everything is sales, from getting your children to go to bed, to agreeing on what to have for dinner. The real question behind the question is this: “How do you want to be spoken to?” The answer is pure gold. You see, the answer is different for different people. It relies on their values. Let me give you an example.


Someone who values responsibility and rules and credentials and titles is going to want to be spoken to in a very specific way. They will want to hear about your processes and systems. They want to know if your plans are predictable. They don’t want Pie-in-the-Sky fairy tales about what you think you might be able to accomplish at some nebulous date in the future. Yet, someone who values relationships, authenticity and morality doesn’t care about the details. They may be more concerned about your contribution to the team rather than the specifics of the systems and the process.


So, it helps to know the values of the person to whom you are speaking, if you want to draw them out. If you want them to open up and really tell you how they feel and why they feel that way, you have to be able to build trust and rapport. Doing that requires more than just common ground. It requires active work. It requires the kind of work we teach in our coaching. It requires emotional intelligence. You’re probably going to fail a time or two. Just don’t give up. We’ll talk about failure at another time.


So how do you learn someone’s values? Maybe you grew up with them and you’ve always known. Maybe. However, as my nephew said, we’ve become disconnected during this pandemic. We don’t know each other as well as we should. We don’t know each other’s hearts like we used to. So, what do we do? I have some relationship and communication classes coming up next year, for those of you who want to wait. It probably will be February or later before I can get those on the calendar. For those of you who want to start working on this sooner, I have a Codebreaker Summit coming up next week. Drop something below to let me know you’re interested and I’ll make sure you get the information.


Meanwhile, be brave enough to listen. Really listen. If you can build trust, establish rapport and truly listen, then we can rebuild these relationships and cure the divide in our country. We may have to do it one relationship at a time, but we can do it. I’m willing. Are you? Tell me your thoughts, feelings, and opinions below. Keep it clean. And remember, A rising tide raises all ships.

Nanette Nuessle