Thursday, February 12, 2015

Real Communication is HARD....

Image result for effective communication

Let me start off by saying that Max Fleming (who’s posted a few things on my timeline) is a very nice guy...and a true believer in Conservatism.

As I’ve often made very clear, Max and I differ on a number of issues and more importantly on the best strategy in advancing those views we each may support.

A good of example of what I see as “WHAT NOT to DO,” is the “Department of Obama-Security” picture posted here:

I find such things embarrassing to conservatism.

Apparently, Max does not.

Here’s the thing, WHAT, exactly constitutes “advancing one’s views?”

Is it “stoking up the base,” or “preaching to the choir,” OR is it trying to make the best case for your ideas to those who may be predisposed to opposing your ideas?

I believe it is the latter, while Max apparently thinks the former is the way to go.

When I see things like that, I’m reminded of the gleeful taunts of “McChimp” that many extreme G W Bush opponents were fond of throwing around.

My response to BOTH is, “HOW, exactly, does that advance your ideas?”

The short answer is they DON’T.

So WHY do it, then?

Quite simply, because it’s so damned much FUN!

It’s fun to mock, insult and slime those you disagree with. Who cares, if it only further alienates the opposition and gives those on the fence, he may have been leaning your way, pause? The choir LOVES it! AND you're a “hero” for “having the guts” to “take on the enemy,” even if the “enemy” is really just your neighbor down the street. I know, you never much liked him anyway.

There’s really no competition between such clowning and real communication. It’s like the competition between broccoli and chocolate....Chocolate, like FUN, wins every time! SAME thing here, real communication is HARD, it takes work, while sliming and insulting those you disagree with is easy...and FUN, to boot.

So what? What’s the problem with that? Fun is good, right?

FUN really IS good. I mean it’s FUN, after all! BUT when “fun” comes at someone else’s expense, or worse yet, at the expense of the truth...then that kind of fun isn’t very harmless.

Most people, contrary to popular belief are NOT dogmatic “liberals” or “conservatives.” Their views tend to be an amalgamation of the things that make sense to them at the time, based on the prevailing information they have on hand. Our beliefs tend to be much more fluid and malleable than most of us would like to think.

A well-reasoned argument may NOT immediately convince or “convert,” BUT it may well help someone think a little differently about an issue...and THAT should be our goal.

Sure, it’s not nearly as much fun as getting a bunch of Yuks from the choir of true believers, but it’s far more useful, not to mention far more effective.

I’ll give a personal example. I was an original member of Merit Matters, a group dedicated to high standards for the Fire Service (specifically the FDNY) within the Civil Service Merit System.

That issue, as you can well imagine, can often be a contentious one. There is a tendency on BOTH sides to see the other as motivated by malice and bad intentions.

I see the issue clearly as a health and safety issue, both for the FDNY and the public at large.

My wife was born into grinding poverty in Kingston, Jamaica. Fortunately for her, she’s smart...very smart. She skipped two grades in Grammar school and went on to get a Chartered Accountancy (in the English system), then came to the U.S. and went back to Baruch College, got an accounting degree and passed the grueling 4-part CPA exam, an exam that has the SAME “disparate impact” (vastly differing passing rates for Asians, blacks, Hispanics, whites, etc.) that other such standardized written exams have.

It is my belief that preferences only serve to erode the competitive abilities of the recipients AND they foster the toxic view that “the recipients are unable to compete, especially against whites and Asians without such a crutch.” THAT indeed is the view promulgated when proponents of such preferences argue things like, “Written exams are discriminatory against black candidates.”

What I did was to look at the demographics of New York City’s Municipal workforce ( and found that NONE of New York City’s agencies look anything like New York City and that the ONLY group over-represented by MORE than 10%in New York City’s Municipal workforce is non-Hispanic blacks (a federal designation) with that group representing 23% of the city’s population and 36% of the Municipal workforce ( a 58% over-representation). Whites are about 8.8% over-represented, representing appx. 35% of the city’s population and 38% of its workforce. SEE: BOTH Asians and Hispanics are under-represented in New York City’s Municipal agencies.

That helps put the issue into a clearer perspective. I also went over the demographics of the surrounding Volunteer Fire Departments and found that even in predominantly African-American areas, like Hempstead and Wyandanch, Long Island, the Volunteer Fire Departments in those areas tend to be over 90%, often over 95% white. That would seem to go to the level of interest in that profession in the respective communities.

It IS true that New York’s municipal agencies SHOULD “look like New York City” WITHOUT sacrificing necessary standards. An extremely disproportionate workforce can make applicants from other groups feel unwelcome. That’s something that must be taken into account and with at least 7 other NYC agencies MORE ethnically imbalanced than the FDNY, it’s an issue across the board in NYC’s municipal hiring.

The goal of using such FACTS is to (1) avoid any vitriol or ad hominin attacks on others and (2) to help others look at that issue in a different light.

As a result, Merit Matters NEVER resorted to insults or personal attacks in ANY of our writings and offered an open and respectful platform to those opposed to our views.

That DOES NOT mean you can guarantee a cordial, even civil response, but the ONLY thing that any of us control is ourselves...our own communication style.

My point is that while responding with anger, vitriol, insults and mocking may feel good, it does nothing to advance your cause, or to sway those yet undecided on the issue, which is generally a fairly sizable group.

That’s where Max and I apparently part company. I DON’T much like insults and mocking in lieu of facts, while Max seems to see “playing up to those who already agree” as the best tact to take.

Hey! Real communication is HARD. I’m very well aware of that.

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