I rarely, if ever, make comments on our political environment. However, in light of our recent election, I felt that something needed to be said about the divide felt by many in our country. A large portion of individuals who are a fundamental part of our society feel that the tactics used in the recent presidential race encouraged a segment of our society to discriminate and harass others. There is a fundamental feeling that the recently acquired norm of respect and understanding for those that have been historically marginalized is just a facade and it is now open season on those that look, act, or believe differently than what some consider the norm.

I choose to believe that the majority of those who voted for our now president-elect did not vote that way because they thought he was going to bring back hatred into our country (sadly, some did, but those people do not represent the America that I love). Despite the poorly chosen words and sentiments used in the recent presidential race, we don’t have to give him or others the power to change the norm of our society. We the people, as a whole, set the tone of our society.

Ensuring a norm of respect starts with you. Take this time to reflect on how you interact with those around you. Are you are treating and interacting with those around you with respect and understanding? Despite what they believe (politically or otherwise), or even how they behave towards you, you can still treat individuals with respect and dignity.

Practice being impeccable with your words: they have meaning. Banish hate and demeaning language from your vocabulary. I believe that everyone, including myself, needs to be regularly reminded to choose our words and thoughts carefully.

In the workplace and beyond, leaders need to clearly model through their behavior and communication that a lack of civility will not be tolerated. In addition to the well-established legal protections, all individuals deserve to work in a place where they are not bullied or ostracized because of what they believe, who they are, or how they look. As leaders, we can set the tone and the norm for every organization by the way we act and respond. Here is a not-so-subtle hint: we all can be leaders regardless of our position.

I encourage you to help heal the divide in this country one person at a time. Take the time to understand someone else’s viewpoint, even if you don’t agree with it. At the end of the day, the norms of our society belong to us, not to politicians or celebrities. You can change the world’s view-point, one person at the time, starting with yourself.

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