“Don't raise your voice, improve your argument.”-Desmond Tutu
What a wonderful sentiment from Desmond Tutu. He was a Nobel Peace Prize recipient in 1984 for his opposition to apartheid in South Africa. I believe this quote above speaks volumes about his leadership style during his time as General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches and later in his life.
How often have you wondered why some of our weaker leaders in political office seem to be angry and yell when they speak in public? From Presidents on down, notice how they seem to raise their voices while trying to make their point or emphasize a position. Is it because they have a weak argument? Maybe they don't have the conviction of their comments. Perhaps they are just poor communicators. Or maybe they are just trying to keep pace with the teleprompter operator?
As we enter the heart of the political season, watch how many politicians yell or raise their voices instead of making their argument rationally and professionally. It seems like shouting has replaced clever thinking and creative expression in the execution of political discourse in this age of social media and the all-encompassing desire for access to the masses. In my opinion, this is not an effective way to lead. Smart political leaders should sit in a public forum with the other side, make their arguments and express their points of view to establish public trust in them as leaders of the political institutions they lead.
And watch the news outlets on both sides accommodate this form of communication. How much better would we be if both sides met to discuss their differences and similarities rather than relying on talking heads to spew their interpretation of these elected officials’ positions? We try to do it in the business world; why can't they do it in the world of politics? It’s called negotiating!
In a previously published blog, I wrote about the art of listening. It speaks to the topic of this blog, reinforcing the need to avoid being the loudest in the room, as most people often tune out the noise coming from the loudest person. You should endeavor to be the best communicator and allow room for others wanting to make their own rational, well-thought-out position or policy.
If we stop accepting this form of behavior and require more from our elected officials, maybe we can change our behavior. Stop listening to their bellicose blathering, their constant chirping against the other side, and notice if they can make a coherent argument to persuade you to accept their position or consider another side of an issue. But until then, I am afraid we will continue to be subjected to this same form of loud, hyperbolic communication. And in my opinion, that is not effective leadership, is it?