By Lavern Nissley
The "Send her back" chant that erupted at President Trump's rally in North Carolina last week touched nerves everywhere. It singled out a congresswoman from Minnesota, an immigrant from Somalia and US citizen. Her views have been particularly troubling to conservatives as well as to some colleagues in her own party.
The ping pong match of acerbic tweets and public comments between Trump and "The Squad" of four congresswomen (close allies of the chant target) seemed to boil over into newscasts, social media discussions and private conversations. Maybe that's why we had such hot weather in most of the USA last week?
What can we learn from such intense political polarization and flame-throwing that could help us in our couple, family and organizational relationships?
I confess reading many articles, social media posts and watching cable and network coverage on Trump vs. The Squad last week. It reminded me of a phenomenon I grew up with in Northern Indiana called "Hooser Hysteria", a term used to describe the emotional escalation and excitement of end-of-season basketball tournaments. Rivalries could get pretty intense as everyone pulled for their own team and trash-talked opponents.
I am struck by the totally competitive nature of current politics. Very little cooperation, if any, between political leaders with different viewpoints. It's Team Republican vs. Team Democrat. Team Liberal vs. Team Conservative. There are even sub-teams within the two major teams that go at each other's throats to gain an advantage.
Winning is everything, and it goes to the survival of the fittest. It's become pretty much a Hunger Games fight to the death.
We tend to look at ourselves through rose-tinted glasses and look at everyone else through a magnifying glass.
Nicky Gumbel, an inspirational author has said: "We tend to look at ourselves through rose-tinted glasses and look at everyone else through a magnifying glass." I'm OK, but, wow, everyone else is totally messed up!
Four words. Not attractive. Aim higher.
What we're watching on a national scale is not the kind of dynamics we'd let go on and on in couple, parenting or workplace relationships, would we? The acrimony and strife are totally toxic and destined to destroy both getting along and getting things done.
John Gottman, a mathematician and relationship researcher has identified four enemies of productive conflict known as "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse".
Do these crop up in our close relationships as well? Not attractive. Aim higher.
Fortunately there are antidotes to these four toxic intruders. See the graphic below from Gottman's website.
Here's a new phrase to think about if you see The Four Horsemen riding into your household or workplace: "Send them back!" And focus on the antidotes to get back to sanity.
We may be frustrated, disgusted and disenchanted with those leading our nation. But we do have control over what we allow into our couple, parenting and workplace relationships.
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.