Post-Election Communication Support

Well some of us here in the USA woke up jubilant and some woke up depressed recently.  Shock, anger, disappointment and fear on one side.  Joy, happiness and excitement on the other.

This election process was so polarized, so split on values and so full of the less-than-beautiful that the aftermath is challenging.   What can we do to make sure we are not letting our feelings rule our interactions?  What can we do to be certain we are not increasing the distance between ourselves and others who may have voted differently? What do we say or not say at the office or in the community?

I am aware that not everyone wants help knowing what to say or do right now. This is understandable.  I wish to offer my insights for those that want to maintain good relationships with a broad spectrum of people and are open to an outside perspective.  It is my interest in healthy communication and in the common good that motivates this reflection.

If your candidate won, remember the studies of what happens to people after victory:  testosterone goes up and cortisol goes down.  So you may be feeling less pain and more power.  This victory-euphoria can also impact awareness and behavior.  If your candidate lost you might feel shocked and a bit paralyzed, and almost like you lost a family member.  Your testosterone may have dipped and your cortisol might be up.

I know of no formal research to prove this, but from my personal life experience I know that after victory I tend to be less conscious of others around me and in defeat I am more aware and sensitive to others and myself (though I may be angry and pout for a while also).   So here are a few ideas for us all to consider right now:

My candidate lost!

  1. Remember the classic stages of grief, made popular by Kubler-Ross, because this is a significant loss.   Shock, denial, bargaining, anger, acceptance…I think you know them.  Find a trusted friend to share with.  Gather in group conversations.  Remember that feelings change.
  2. Modulate the tendency to get apocalyptic.  It is easy to think that the world will collapse if a certain person is President.  Some things will surely change with this decision we citizens made and plenty of things will stay the same.  Indulging our deepest fears may not aid in achieving the idea of a more robust democracy.
  3. Do some extra self-care.  Make sure you don’t skimp on rest and eat and drink things that benefit your health.  Exercise and meditate.

My candidate won!

  1. Be aware that while you are rejoicing others might be feeling shock, fear and/or genuine grief.  How would you speak to someone who lost a dear family member on Tuesday?  Be aware that some may be at that level.   Some are afraid they or their loved ones will be deported.
  2. Be careful on social media.  I know it is tempting to post a big victory flag, or to gloat, but it might not help achieve the common good to do it this week.
  3. When in “mixed” company, and especially at Thanksgiving, be humble and interested in others. Sure you can celebrate, just be careful not to be unconsciously irritating.  Normally, of course, you wouldn’t…but given your high levels of testosterone you just might be less sensitive than normal.

Whether your candidate won or lost, we still need to go to work and to talk to people in our neighborhoods.  Time to roll up our sleeves, keep the communication flowing and work to maintain good relationships with others.  And to grow our capacity to choose love, even for those who voted for the “other” candidate.

One final thought, especially for those who are feeling shocked and less than happy (maybe including some who voted for Trump).   Take a look at the 2nd most watched TED talk ever, Dr. Amy Cuddy’s inspiring message about how body posture can increase good hormones and decrease bad ones.   At this point we need all the help we can get to embrace and manage our power and our relationships with others who might be on the other side of the aisle.

One final thing:  I’ll be doing a 75 min. webinar called “Managing and Working in a Polarized World” on Nov 29th at 12 noon CDT.  Please see http://www.avantresources.com/store/events for more info.

About Tom Esch

Tom Esch works with health care companies, counties, cities, construction companies, business analysts, attorneys, executives, owners, managers and non-profit executives to grow interpersonal awareness and foster effective communication.