I am encouraged by recent public reactions to seemingly unjust statements and situations in the news. The reactions reflect a powerful sentiment: “We are no longer going to take the bullying and negative, aggressive actions and words of others.”
I see this as a move toward a culture of Respectful Confrontation. A culture where we may not agree with each other, but can hold each other accountable for how we do and say things. When someone feels an action is unjust, they can respectfully say “No”
When a large number of sponsors recently pulled out of advertising for Rush Limbaugh’s show, I asked, “Why now?” These companies apparently had no problem with his viewpoints previous to this; otherwise they wouldn’t have chosen to advertise and endorse his show and his message in the first place. Hasn’t he been just as bullying and violent with his approach to expressing his opinions in the past? But this time, these companies felt he went too far.
Did he go too far this time? Or are we changing our level of tolerance and finding our voices? Did the Egyptian government go too far last year or did the level of tolerance in the students of Egypt change? The same could be asked about the Occupy movement and the world economy, about the members of Citibank who protested and managed to get Citibank to reverse a policy to charge more fees, and about the reaction to Susan G. Komen pulling funding for Planned Parenthood.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether it comes from one side or the other. The message being communicated is that we will not tolerate that level of bullying and aggression any more, we are taking peaceful yet forceful action against it, and we are succeeding! We are finding our respectful “No” and we are becoming more powerful for it.
Want to learn more about ®Respectful Confrontation and the ideas behind a respectful “No”? Check out my book Mastering Respectful Confrontation or find a workshop near you.