A Vital Task Communicators And Mediators Have In Common

We’ve all seen a common tactic people employ when they’re angry at a specific group. At some point one of the groups involved in an intragroup conflict will make a false statement. This happens all the time in intragroup fights and disagreements. And what’s next is an event most people have seen: someone in the other group will accuse the group who made the false statement of lying. It’s a natural reaction and happens all the time. It’s also very often not accurate.

A lie is not a descriptor that applies to all untrue statements. An untrue statement can be made without it being a lie. A lie requires intention, specifically intention to deceive. If I go up to you and make a statement that is untrue that by itself doesn’t mean I’m lying to you. I could have made a statement that is not reflective of reality but sincerely believed it to be true, and that’s not a lie. In order to prove a lie it is necessary for someone to not only prove a statement to be untrue but also that someone demonstrate there was an intention to deceive. This is a high burden of proof and that matters. Not all, and possibly not even most untrue statements that people make are lies.

Mediators and communicators have a shared task:

If you’re involved in a conflict between two or more people and you’re taking it upon yourself to be a positive participant and conflict transformer you’re an informal mediator. As such when rhetoric escalates you have a certain level of responsibility and a specific responsibility: to keep the dialogue open and civil. Part of that means knowing when to call out conflict actors for acting in bad faith and oftentimes accusations that people are lying are folks acting in bad faith.

This is a task many communicators also have. This is a simple but continuous task that challenges pretty much everyone who has it. It’s a consistent task that will need to be repeated over and over in conflict settings and discourse as well as in messaging and in even friendly dialogue between competitors and folks who share resources, objectives, and relationships of various types.

How have you approached this task? What have you done to call out rash and frustrated accusations of lies that lack evidence? How would you approach this if you were a mediator or communicator who was tasked with keeping dialogue and conversations civil?

Compassion Isn't An Idle Thing

It’s critically important that people be humanistic and compassionate all the time. There are times when it’s easy to be humanistic and compassionate, and there are times when it’s less easy. I and many other compassionate people whether or not they are humanists themselves understand the importance of consistent and vocalized compassion.

This can manifest in different ways. Sometimes it’s when tragedies happen thousands of miles away. Sometimes it’s when something bad happens to someone we don’t like. Those are the times when our compassion and our humanism can go the extra mile, and in a lot of cases it’s the times when it’s hardest for us to be compassionate and humanistic.

It’s easy to not care about tragedies that don’t affect us. It’s easy to not care about tragedies that hurt people we don’t like. That being said, it’s of critical importance that if we’re determined to leave the world a better place we ourselves are active and consistent in practicing humanistic compassion even when we aren’t affected by a tragedy or a tragedy befalls someone we hate. Compassion is hard and for a lot of people having compassion requires work.

A public example of what happens when people aren’t compassionate are the sorts of reactions the Migrant Caravan gets from a lot of people who prefer law and order over hope and mercy. These are the sorts of people who claim to feel sorry for migrants but say without any understanding that people in the caravan should “go home” and “come back legally”. In addition to not having compassion these people also often lack an understanding of what is actually happening. Because as many have noted the caravan is operating properly. Here a lack of compassion causes apathy and ignorance.

Having compassion is not an idle thing. Having compassion is an active task that brings with it lots of work and research. People who have serious compassion do not sit around idly wishing for things to get better, instead they conduct research and work to learn how to make things better and how to help people. For me compassion is humanistic because compassion motivates action. When I say that I’m being compassionate I’m not just “understanding” or “sympathizing” with someone, instead I’m using the emotions that come with the compassion I experience to push myself to gain a better understanding of others experiences so I can figure out how to be a positive ally or a positive force in whatever struggles others are experiencing.

It’s easy to feel like compassion is idle and doesn’t bring with it any other actions but my understanding of compassion is action oriented. What is your understanding of compassion? Does compassion drive you to action? Does it carry with it weight and a desire to make things better?