Instead of making a resolution like going to the gym everyday or walking to work more or cutting out pie from your life (how could you?), I have a resolution for anyone paying attention to politics that can be kept: listen.
2017 was the year of shouting. You couldn’t turn on the television, a podcast, or twitter without seeing ALL CAPS ARGUMENTS on issues ranging in importance from the President’s necktie length to potential nuclear war.
So, in contrast, let’s make 2017 the year we shut up and listen more. We can learn more. We can see where others are coming from. We can put the phones and iPads away at night and read a good book. (I resolve to do better at that one, as I have a reading list stacked a dozen deep.)
Part of the strategies of rabble-rousers on both sides is to drown you out audibly, then to use an argument that prompts an emotional, not logical, reaction from you. (Think about your sense of rage when you see Nancy Pelosi or Donald Trump giving a speech…depending on what side you’re on.) They’ll use that negative emotional reaction to drag you further in the mud or to make you say something untrue or embarrassing. You can see the pattern in nearly any tweetstorm the President has sent in recent months.
You’re not expected to agree with people who disagree with you or change your core values based on how someone else feels. But, you get a better sense for all sides of an issue when you hear where the other side is coming from.
Let’s all be a little better this year. Lay off twitter. Delete your Facebook app for a couple of days. Chill out. Most of all, listen.
Patrick Pfingsten is an award-winning journalist, political consultant, and PR expert. You can find him on Twitter @pfingsten1 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.