Shame … Shame… Shame…

How to move on after 2017 and the election that changed everything

We have all had experiences during this past year, especially when speaking of the election, that each of us can relate to. The experience could have been with whom people we work, clients, friends or family.  During last year’s election many people, myself included, found ourselves on opposite sides of the proverbial isle with people who we thought we knew, people with whom we worked, people whom we love. Relationships that had been strong for decades suddenly became translucent and nonexistent. The social media wars ensued and feelings were hurt. Opinions and positions that were contrary to one another forced people to pick sides. And oh how sides were picked.

Everyone has had situations that fall into these three categories.

1.   People with whom we never talked politics because it was known that the views were different and you didn’t share the same ideals.

2.   People whom you knew were on opposite sides but because of your respect for them and your relationship you challenged them and sparred with them because your core principles were still aligned. Golden rule stuff.

3.   People who you knew agreed with your positions and were able to ride the same ‘band wagon’.

What I never expected was how those who fall into category two, how personal it became and how weaponized their positions were.

Let me give you an example. I had posted on a friend’s public page who I thought was very close to me. The post read, “shame, shame, shame all of us don’t fall into that category”. Obviously it was a common play on words that meant nothing other than disagreement with that person’s generalized position. The anger and contempt that built up from that statement was immense. I had no idea what I had done or said that caused this person whom I loved to be mad at me. I later found out it was stated because I used the word “shame” and because of this person’s abuse history, I should have known how that word or phrase would make them feel.

I spent months upset about how this cherished relationship was falling apart. As with any good grieving process, I became angry. Angry that this person couldn’t even remember similar tragedies that affected me that had been shared many times, but more so that I was to be held responsible for “making them feel that way” in their mind shaming them for a tragedy that happened decades before we had ever met. We didn’t agree so this person weaponized a self-perceived injustice that I inflicted on them to give them justification for being upset with me over a political position. Really!

That relationship didn’t recover and as I started to go back and evaluate many of the relationships that were impacted by this last year. Sometimes “letting go” is better than “getting over” and sometime these people are better suited removed from your life and safely placed across the aisle.

It seems that this climate (politically at least) has left in its wake considerable destruction of relationships. Like any storm, it usually leaves a mess. I don’t think there is any reason to try to salvage the relationship with this person spoke of above because it is now polarized, but I plan on not letting it ever happen with anyone again.

Don’t be shamed into a poor position….

If you can agree to disagree or stay away from the subjects that cause you or others pain, or learn as I did, that some of the best working relationships should stay just that and you have to be very careful not to let it cross over.  We all want to be aligned with like minded people. All this in a digital world where relationships are becoming more and more difficult to develop let alone maintain.  We all look for commonalities that we can grasp hold of to help elevate or promote the relationship. Be careful not to poison a possible business relationship with subject matter that don’t influence your business dealings. Make only neutral or positive statements. There is a rule in business, never talk about religion or politics. It still holds true today, unless your business is religion or politics.