Moving Past Active Listening to Facilitate Communication: Shifting the Paradigm

GearsIn several previous professional positions, especially those in call centers, there has been considerable time spent training people to actively listen.  The problem; active listening can be faked, and fake active listening is as useful as a shower without soap or shampoo.  You might get wet, but you do not feel clean.

Listening has four distinct levels, these are:

  • Inactive listening – Hearing words, seeing written communication, zero impact mentally. Mostly because your internal voices drown out the possibility for communication.
  • Selective listening – Hearing only that which confirms your own voices, opinions, and biases. While others are speaking, you are already forming your response.
  • Active listening – Show the other person you are paying attention, engage with meaning in a reply. Focused upon removing barriers to get your point across.
  • Reflective listening – Paying attention to intent and content, reducing emotion, two-direction as both parties are engaged in achieving mutual understanding.

Tools for listening effectively, which for all intents and purposes, means listening reflectively, requires several tools, along with considerable experience in using these tools.  Customer service focus – not sales in disguise, not having a hidden agenda, and not covertly looking for opportunities to turn the conversation back to you.  The attitude of service – is all about what your intention is after listening.  Sales are all about attitude and winning over someone else; however, how many sales require first being able to reflectively listen; every single one.  Desire – desire determines your choices, your choices form decisions, and decisions determine destiny!

ElectionConsider the press conferences at the White House.  A room is full of people who would claim they are professional listeners, who then report what is being said.  Yet, how many times do you see questions asked with an agenda, personal opinions warping what is said into what they desired to hear, and then reporting what they erroneously heard to satisfy their desires politically; every single time.  Hence, the problems with active listening and how active listening can be faked.  Desire and attitude of service are not being applied to improve customer service focus.

Communication occurs in two different modalities, verbal and non-verbal.  Good communicators adapt their message to the audience.  Adapting the message requires first a choice, determining who the primary and secondary audience is, then focus the message onto the primary audience.  Next, adaptation requires prior planning, which includes mental preparation, practice, and channels for feedback.  Finally, adaptation requires listening to achieve mutual understanding, careful observation, asking questions designed to lead to mutual understanding, and clarifying what is being said to achieve mutual understanding.

Too often, those labeled as “good communicators” cannot listen reflectively.  They have never learned how to use the tools of desire and attitude of service, in a manner that builds customer service focus into reflectively listening.

Leadership CartoonConsider two people the media has proclaimed as great communicators, Presidents Reagan (R) and Obama (D).  President Reagan was listened reflectively, asked good questions, listened to the answers, asked more questions, and then listened some more.  In listening and asking questions, President Reagan built people (customer service focus) and was respected by enemies and friends for his ability to communicate (personal desire determined destiny).  President Obama has been labeled by the media as a good communicator; but by all accounts, he never listened, his questions showed he desired to be heard, and his focus was all on him as the smartest person in the room.  Desire builds an attitude of service, which then forms the customer service focus, which then reflects a desire to reflectively listen and achieve mutual understanding with those being communicated with.

One of the most despicable problems in customer service today is a theme established by Stephen Covey, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”  On a recent issue, a letter was sent to Senator Martha McSally (D) of Arizona, the response has formed the epitome for not listening in written communication as the response had nothing of the original issue even discussed.  The response was a form letter, on a different topic, and lacked any response that the sender had been heard; but, the letter advertised Sen. Martha McSally and her commitment to listening to her constituents.  But, you might say, a Senator is too busy to respond to every communication delivered, a few other examples of both verbal and non-verbal communication failures.

  • Two lieutenants, representing the Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Police Service, stationed at the Phoenix VA Hospital. Engage a person not wearing a mask.  Body language clearly states they are the authority and will broker no resistance.  The officers spend 45-minutes haranguing the patient before cuffing and frog-marching the patient to a holding cell, where the patient who was seeking services in the emergency room, waits for an additional 60-minutes before being forced off Federal Property.  The patient informed the officers multiple times of their pre-existing condition and inability to physically wear a mask.  The hospital mask policy allowed for a face shield to be worn instead of a mask, and after the patient put the face shield on, the officers continued to verbally engage without listening, until the foregone conclusion of arresting the patient could be justified.  The patient was fined $360.00 (USD) for “disorderly conduct” by refusing to wear a mask.
  • Calling a major cellular phone provider (AT&T) with questions about the price plan. The representative answered every question but needed to make a sale, and their focus was on making that sale, not on assisting the customer.  Not the agent’s fault, the policy of the call center is to up-sale on every call.  If the agent does not up-sale, the call is automatically downgraded in quality assurance and the agent gets in trouble.  Hence policy dictates that the customer not be listened too reflectively as the sale must come before the customer.
  • Hotel check-in, online registration was made specifically for a particular sized bed, but due to late check-in, the customer is not provided what was asked for, and the attitude of the clerk is one of disgust at being bothered. Verbal and nonverbal cues are sending messages that the customer is the problem and is interrupting the life of the clerk.
  • A patient receives a call to make an urgent appointment with a VA medical provider in general surgery. The medical provider has demanded the patient be seen in the clinic, thus negating a phone or video styled appointment.  The patient’s record clearly states the patient has trouble complying with mandatory masking for patients seen in the clinic.  The provider arrives 20+ minutes late to the appointment, and because the patient is not wearing a mask immediately refuses to see the patient, wasting 90-minutes of the patient’s day.  The provider gets off in 10-minutes, and seeing the patient will make the provider late getting off.  Was the mask really the problem; not likely.

Social Justice Warrior 2Not listening is probably the largest social problem in the world today.  Everywhere fake active listening is observed, along with copious amounts of observable inactive, selective, and active refusals to listen.  Some of the problems in improving listening are policies and procedures that do not allow for individual adaptation or situational understanding.  However, too often, the individual choices to grab power, exercise authority, and pass along inconvenience are the real problems in not listening.  Harvey Mackay is reported to have said, “Easy listening is a style of music, not an attribute of communication.”  Proving again that listening is a choice, a personal choice, borne from desire, bred on attitude and reflected in verbal and non-verbal patterns of communication.

The following are some launch points for improving listening in society:

  1. Understand your desire.  Know that your desire choices are determining your destiny.  If your destiny is not one, you appreciate, return to the desire and make different choices.
  2. Practice mental preparation, based upon previous situations, to make different choices. Listening is a voyage of discovery to reach a mutual understanding, but mental preparation is key to safely reach the destination.  Prepare, use a mirror, practice until what currently feels alien becomes familiar.
  3. Reduce emotion. The principle of empathy and sympathy are destroying listening and only reflect the internal voices.  The volume of internal voices is silencing the ability to reflectively listen, necessitating the need to fake actively listening for employment’s sake.
  4. Listen as you would have others listen to you. This is an adaptation of the “Golden Rule” and remains applicable as a personal choice.  How you choose to listen will determine your destiny.
  5. Listening remains the number one tool you control and has application to written communication and verbal communication channels. Body language is a non-verbal communication channel that can be heard as well as seen.  How are you communicating non-verbally, which is interfering with your written and verbal communication attempts?

Listening is a choice.  Listening is hard.  Yet, many people have pointed out that we have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as often as we speak.  Choose to reflectively listen, choose to reach a mutual understanding, watch your destiny change.

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Farmers, Ranchers, and Dairymen – An Open Letter Regarding Food Safety #COOL

To the Elected Officials Across America:

I write by way of admonishment and with a plea.  You must cease capitulating to BIG farm, ranch, dairy corporations immediately.  You must forthwith and without any delay, come forward and show true support and allegiance for America’s independent farmers, ranchers, and dairymen, upholding the heritage of agronomy in America.  Most importantly, legislation must begin forthwith to protect America’s food safety through the country of origin labeling (#COOL).  The sleight of hand, backroom deal that ended country of origin labeling on a “must-pass” piece of legislation, was the purest form of chicanery and political skullduggery in the Obama administration; sadly, this was not the only piece of legislation to be affected in this manner!

I am calling out both parties (Republican and Democrat), the national food safety councils, the national ranching/farming/dairy associations, and every other political hack, political action committee (PAC), and lobbyists.  I am calling out the staff members of the elected officials who write the laws and perform the skullduggery that allowed country of origin labeling to cease.  I am calling out and upon every single one of you to listen and act without delay!

National Councils are supposed to represent the independent rancher, farmer, and dairymen, whose membership pays for the political dinners and political action committees in capitals across America.  People who make money off association and membership dues, then forget their members and associates at the drop of a hat for political expediency.  I have been on your websites and am thoroughly embarrassed at your performance where the country of origin labeling is concerned.  Big Farm/Ranch/Dairy, your actions continue to be the purest and most detestable acts of tyranny ever recorded in American history.  I have been on your websites, I have seen the lawfare you unscrupulously pursue against independent farmers, ranchers, and dairymen, and I will cheer the day you are brought to the bar of justice.  The disregard for independent farmers, ranchers, and dairymen remains inexcusable!

When was the last time you visited a farm, a ranch, or a dairy and asked what the government (or council) can be doing to improve their businesses?  You want these people’s votes, association, membership, mostly you want their money.  Then you proceed to demean, denigrate, and plot to actively undercut and abuse the independents, all while capitulating to the demands of the BIG representatives.  This byzantine behavior is beyond despicable and remains abhorrent!

Where are the monies promised from the CARES Act that was supposed to go directly to the farmers, ranchers, and dairymen who are unable to sell their products because of the government shutdown of the economy?  The local farmer, dairymen, and ranchers, their families, and their communities are precious to the American soul.  Each loss of an independent farmer, rancher, and dairymen needs to be mourned, but instead, all I observe are parties celebrating, paid for by PAC’s working to undercut America’s food safety.  Your actions to withhold monies and support is reprehensible chutzpah at best!

Fact: General George Washington, first President of America wanted to be, and worked hard to be, America’s first farmer.  He worked in the fields with his people, he did farm duties and got his hands dirty.  Except for photoshoots can you claim any type of work, let alone that done by a farmer, rancher, or dairymen?

Fact: Thomas Jefferson was a farmer who got his hands dirty.  Both Jefferson and Washington were researchers in agronomy, piloting many of the techniques still used today to grow crops.  What useful activity are you performing?  I guarantee it is not productive!

Fact: President General Washington, said the following: “Agriculture [is] the proper source of American wealth and happiness;” and predicted Americans would continue to be “an agricultural people…for ages to come.”  Yet, too often since the 1980s, the politicians of America have turned a blind eye to the agricultural heritage of America.  Stooping to actively bring foreign products into America even when those products, too often, are unsafe, poor quality, or worse actively harmful to America’s citizenry and the farmers, ranchers, and dairymen who can, and DO, produce better than their foreign counterparts.  You have bankrupted the agriculture legacy of America and you need to begin to make amends!

Fact: When I expressed interest in being a farmer or a rancher as a child, I was encouraged to stay away from those “dying professions” by teachers, guidance counselors, and regrettably even some farmers and ranchers.  People who, after a life of working at a job they loved, were getting out and selling out because it had just become too much, too political, and too expensive.  A sheepherder in Utah, been in the business for multiple generations, could not find a market and had to sell his animals for glue and parts, losing his job at 70, with nothing from social security.  A dairyman in Maine, on the same plot of land since before America was a country, bankrupted by a corporation, then purchased by the same corporation, at a bankruptcy sell.  I have seen too many of these tales personally.  Good, honest, hardworking people, betrayed by their government at the local, county, state, and federal levels, disavowed by their associations and councils and left to destitution and poverty.

Fact: The founding fathers in America all wrote extensively and worked diligently on farms, ranches, and dairies.  What politician, lobbyist, staff member, or other political hacks, can say the same?  Which of you can relate business topics, having met a customer face-to-face?  Can you still say you have met a customer face-to-face?  I know some of you were doctors, are you still a practicing doctor seeing patients?  What about lawyers, are you still seeing clients?  What about farmers or ranchers, how is your farm or ranch doing?  Are the laws you are passing, that are killing your constituents, being felt personally?  What about you presidents and political activists of farming, ranching, dairy, or food safety councils and associations, have you been on a farm recently, to work?

Fact:  Jefferson wrote that “those who [labor] in the earth…are the chosen people of God if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he had made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue.”  In December 1778, John Adams wrote to a Massachusetts friend from France that “it is some comfort to me to think that I shall be soon a private Farmer.”  Two incredible people who saw their work in politics as a hindrance to being a farmer.  They knew productive work and did productive work, they knew the struggles of the everyman and could temper their political actions against the consequences.  Of President Adams it is related, “Adams occasionally dug ditches, shoveled and transported manure, spread fertilizer, slaughtered livestock, and worked under the hot sun in his fields both at harvest time in the early autumn and in May, July, and September, when the hay was stacked following the mowing of the meadows.”  Can any of you say the same?

Fact: In 1769, Benjamin Franklin wrote Henry Home: “There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered [neighbors]; this is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way…wrought by the hand of God in His [favor], as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry.”   Biographer Carl Van Doren observed that “Franklin was one of the earliest Americans to perceive that the agricultural resources of the country should not be wasted and that farming must be something of a business and a science as well as a way of life.”  Your actions are killing the American way of life and I demand to know why!

Since the 1980’s America has seen the death of too many independent farmers, ranchers, and dairymen, compounded and multiplied by first losing the farm, ranch, or dairy, then again to suicide.  Time Magazine has written about the death, neigh almost extinction, of America’s independent farmers, ranchers, and dairymen, as recently as November 2019.  Check your offices, you might still have this issue sitting on the low table in your outer office.  I know my first magazine article on this topic (1991) was seen in a dentist’s office, in Belfast Maine.  I had to see the dentist as I broke a tooth working as a farmer, a fruit picker, and dairy hand.

Let me help you out with a few more facts, sourced from the Time Magazine article mentioned above, and these numbers could be much higher.

Fact:  “Farm debt, [is] at $416 billion (2019), an all-time high. More than half of all farmers have lost money every year since 2013 and lost more than $1,644 this year. Farm loan delinquencies are rising.”

Fact:  “Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies were up 12 percent in the Midwest from July of 2018 to June of 2019; they’re up 50 percent in the Northwest. Tens of thousands have simply stopped farming, knowing that reorganization through bankruptcy won’t save them.”

Fact:  “The nation lost more than 100,000 farms between 2011 and 2018; 12,000 of those between 2017 and 2018 alone.”

Here’s an interesting correlational fact: “Congress included #COOL repeal in the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill after the World Trade Organization (WTO)  ruled Canada and Mexico could begin imposing more than $1 billion in tariffs on U.S. products to punish it for the [undue] harm the labeling requirements were doing to them.”  Answer me this, when Either country has to put labels on their products for trade with the European Union (EU), those labels are not considered “undue hardship,” but the cost of doing business with the EU, the cost is then passed along to the EU consumer.  Why is trade with America on food safety, all of a sudden an “undue hardship” to label where the food is originating?  It seems to me, if you are not trying to poison Americans, you should be proud to be labeling your country on your products.

#COOL labeling was considered onerous and was despised by Congress, even though #COOL labeling was on such a tiny number of agricultural products.  Yet, the US Congress caved and a weak-kneed president signed off on this omnibus spending legislative fiasco.  So, let us discuss labeling legislation for a moment.

Fact:  Feel free to look this one up. 49 U.S. Code § 32304. Passenger motor vehicle country of origin labeling.  Prominent placing is critical to the country of origin labeling on all vehicles, and this labeling is not considered “undue hardship” by the WTO.  Even small assembly parts can be included in the vehicle country of origin, not considered an “undue hardship” by the WTO, and falls under the vehicle mandated country of origin labeling.  In fact, the manufacturing of foreign parts can be hidden, provided proper labels are designed, and the country of origin masked, and this is not considered an “undue hardship” by the WTO.  No one ever saw Congress cave on vehicle country of origin labeling, and the auto industry has been slammed in America by foreign vehicles and foreign trade.  Closing the rust belt and extinguishing America’s manufacturing jobs without a single cry from Congress, about “undue hardship.”  No staff member tried sneaking in a repeal of the country of origin labeling into a “must-pass” piece of legislation.  How many lobbyists and political action committees are dedicated to removing the labeling requirements on vehicles?

Fact:  Page 76 of the “Overview and Compilation of U.S. Trade Statutes” lists pipes and pipe fittings as requiring country of origin labeling, not considered an “undue hardship” by the WTO.  Failure to comply with all pipe types and fittings having the country of origin labeling is punishable by hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines to the manufacturer, the retailer, and the potential for lengthy prison sentences.  Best of all, there are “no exceptions” [emphasis mine] allowed to the country of origin labeling requirements for pipes and pipe fittings, manhole covers, gas cylinders, and more.

Fact:  Mushrooms must have a country of origin label per the “Overview and Compilation of U.S. Trade Statutes” manual.  Native American Jewelry, computers, phones, monitors, rugs, floor mats, and practically every single item in an American home must-have, under penalty of law, no exceptions, labels demanding where that product originates.  Also, not considered “undue hardship for labeling are specifics on sizes, volumes, and much more.  Yet, for food country of origin labeling, is considered an “undue hardship” for other countries to comply with, and thus, American food producers, the ranchers, farmers, and dairymen, are unfairly able to compete.  What about the complaints of America’s manufacturers, restaurants, and others who got nailed by the incredible labeling costs under Obama’s FDA mandate for nutritional labels?  A simple rule change at the FDA condemned hundreds of small businesses, eateries, café’s, and food producers to bankruptcy; yet, none of the political activists, staff members, committees, PAC’s, etc. even cared.  In fact, many of them cheered and helped waste a lot of reporter ink on this topic.

Let me see if I fully understand this problem, and I fully anticipate your full and transparent commentary, as well as your forthright action to correct this problem.  American chicken companies can purchase foreign-born and raised, chickens, have them shipped to the US, killed in a US factory, and do not need to tell anyone that chicken came from overseas.  Why?  Isn’t this the same as a car manufacturer, having all the parts for a car made in Vietnam, shipped to America, and sold as an American car, and just as illegal?  What about Brazilian beef that caused Americans to become sick, that miraculously now is available for retail again, while American ranchers cannot get their products to market at all?

What about all that romaine lettuce that has been causing E.coli across America for multiple years?  The growers are Mexican and others south of the border, the seller is an American company, and Americans are still suffering from this disease madness.  Yet, if a pipe manufacturer did exactly the same thing, with sewers exploding from poor pipes not bearing the proper country of origin labeling, that retailer, manufacturer, and the entire supply chain can be held liable for the harm, accountable for legal penalties and every class action lawyer in America would be dreaming dollar signs for injuries, damage, and mental harm caused.  But where food is concerned there is no problem, no foul, nothing to see here.

What about the Chinese Melamine Pet Food fiasco?  How is the purchase of melamine-contaminated food which was then processed into foods for pets and humans, not requiring country of origin labeling, different from a computer?  If the computer fails because a chip made in Ireland was poorly manufactured, there would be significant problems, legal interventions, trade embargoes, and a political rant for years.  Yet, because China was contaminating the source ingredients, there were no problems to be seen here.  Israel manufactures many phenomenal products for technology; let one of those products cause a tiny amount of inconvenience and the news reporters will try to run out of ink reporting Israeli manufacturing problems and defects of that product.  Lots of political pandering from 2007 saw China poisoning with melamine story die very quickly.  Why?  Are pets somehow less important than people; if America’s spending on pets is any indicator, that answer is a resounding NO!  Yet, not only did you pander to China, you killed the US Media reporting this issue, and then repealed a law that should have been useful in preventing this fiasco from ever happening in the first place.

Forget pets and melamine for a moment, do your political brains have sufficient room to remember when melamine was found in baby formula and killed infants?  Melamine tainted food is a hallmark of China, and yet somehow China is now able to send “safe” food to America all without a country of origin label.  I find this fascinating and demand to know why the country of origin labels are required by law on every other tradable good or product, but not foods!

Fact: Research published in February [2011] claimed that up to 10 percent of rice sold in China was contaminated with heavy metals, including cadmium. Data collected by Nanjing Agricultural University found that the problem was most acute in Southern provinces, wherein some areas 60 percent of samples were contaminated, some with up to five times the legal limit of heavy metals.  Where is the demand for the country of origin labels?  When you plant a seed in the ground with contamination, that contamination grows into the seed and will be found in the fruit that seed produces.  This was a fourth-grade science product where we changed the color of celery by contaminating the water with food dye.  How many rice producers in America cannot compete for shelf space in their local supermarket, even though they have a superior product, all because of heavy metal rice from China?  The same China who has a multi-year deadly hog disease that has killed millions of pigs and raised meat prices in China.  You cannot grow safe food or animals in contaminated environments without getting that contamination into the food!

China, the same country where fake water was sold, where machinery oil has been used to cook food, rotten meat has been used to create oils to cook food, and so many more food safety violations.  Yet, importers can import all sorts of meat that “meet proper regulations” and not have to declare where the meat was raised, what the meat actually is, and when that meat was slaughtered.  Importers can sell all types of vegetables and fruits grown in unknown ground conditions, which infect the fruit with the same ground and water contaminants without ever identifying sources and origins.

Does anyone else remember the DARK (Denying Americans the Right to Know) Act (July, 2016)?  a GMO labeling bill that allows companies and producers to use QR codes, 1-800 numbers and other difficult to access technology to label food products that contain GMOs, instead of clear, on-package text.

Fact:  “Over 90% of Americans support clear mandatory GMO labeling, but President Obama signed [legislation] giving way to the Big Food industry to continue to hide GMO contaminants in American sold products.  Even though these same companies must declare GMO contamination clearly on the package for products sold elsewhere in the world.  The DARK Act, supported by Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), as well as trade groups representing the Big Food industry like the Grocery Manufacturers Association and biotech companies such as Monsanto, is an unfortunate example of how powerful corporations and moneyed interests have taken over our democracy.”  Have you noticed the rise in farms, ranches, and dairies failing to correlate with the labeling legislation?  It appears that every time Congress changes the labeling laws allowing more inferior fruits, nuts, veggies, meat, etc. come into America, and more independent American farms, ranches, and dairies fail!

Your actions to adopt country of origin labeling requirements on the most important items in a person’s home is beyond despicable.  The following is a statement from Andy Kimbrell, executive director at the Center for Food Safety:

“I don’t know what kind of legacy [President Obama] hopes to leave, but denying one-third of Americans the right to know what is in the food they feed their families isn’t one to be proud of. This law is a sham and a shame, a rushed backroom deal … the law also represents a major assault on the democratic decision making of several states and erases their laws with a vague multi-year bureaucratic process specifically designed to provide less transparency to consumers.”

I unequivocally and absolutely support the country of origin labeling (#COOL) for all foods imported into America.  If the WTO does not like this, let them eat cake from China; preferably, made from fake flour, and melamine-contaminated milk, with eggs from hens raised in a heavy metal contaminated environment and manufactured from an environment that has been shut down for violating the cheesy food safety rules of China.

The time has come for America to cease bowing to every global interest body, large food growing corporation, and return to supporting her local farmer, rancher, and dairymen.  Take pride in those who do this work and demand #COOL!  Choose, do you want your food from an unknown environment and a big corporation that doesn’t care, or the local guy; I know my choice #COOL!

By way of praise, I want to thank the Lehrman Institute for their excellent work in documenting historical resources on the founding fathers that improved this letter.

 

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

 

Word Plasticity – The Scourge of the Modern World

Non Sequitur - Plasticity of Language

Consider the following term ‘Flaccid,’ which is often mispronounced as “flassid” instead of the proper pronouncement “Flakcid” (Calvert, 2008).  Whereas, the term ‘Decimate’ does not mean extreme destruction, but the death of every tenth man and originates from Roman Military punishment (Calvert, 2008).  These are but two popular terms that are regularly plasticized in English communication through mispronunciation, lack of understanding the definition, and always with a hidden agenda.  Everywhere in all societies, and throughout all of recorded history, we find intentional misconception being passed as intellectual depth, through the plasticization of words.  Plasticization of words is nothing more than disconnecting words from standard definitions for a personal political agenda.  Many engaged in the intentional plasticization of words are “thought terrorists” who are trying to run their plan and break the mental will of people, demonizing those with knowledge of words as ignorant, and using the court of public opinion to employ emotions as a means to kill debate.

Plasticized words make the most trouble and unfortunately, public education in America does not appear to care; in fact, public educators are some of the worst abusers of words, disconnecting words from meanings to achieve an agenda, again mental terrorism.  Poerksen (1995) discusses this phenomenon in some detail, and the need to be more cognizant of the problem is but a small part of the solution.  Poerksen (1995) for example brings up the term ‘strategy’ the context might not be clear, and without specifying the intention and meaning, the audience becomes lost very quickly, but be confident they know and are doing what they understood.

Hitler’s Germany was famous for plasticizing words to make socially unacceptable actions, to be understood as acceptable with no negative consequences.  Consider how cattle cars were used in the transportation of Jewish Citizens, by plasticizing the term “cattle” the Jews could be eliminated, society could consider what they were doing as acceptable, and the political agenda of Hitler was pushed forward, because a human of different religion, handicap, and so forth has been reduced to cattle.

Poerksen (1995) is correct in labeling those who intentionally destroy language through plastic words as tyrants and their actions tyrannical.  Mao was an excellent speaker, but his methods of deceiving included making words plastic to cover abuses of people, destruction of lives, and to help his followers feel good about what they were doing.  Ex-President Obama used a TelePrompTer because extemporaneous speaking is not his forte, and because of the plastic words which were bent, twisted, and molded to deceive.  We all remember the promises of Ex-President Obama where ObamaCare is concerned.  However, what is fading from the collective public memory are the plastic expressions lauded upon Bergdahl to justify nefarious actions.  Bergdahl is but one small example of how Ex-President Obama manipulated language to hide, obfuscate, denigrate, and deride the American People.

Stretched Words

Shakespeare (2016) uses Hamlet to relate a line that applies to frequently; especially when communicating online, “… thou doth protest too much, methinks.”  Too often, those intent on misusing words are the ones protesting too much about something and now every communication, every interaction, and every person is a threat that must be lorded over by the intellect of the one protesting.  A recent example of this the world witnessed during Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, where the judge’s children were physically and verbally assaulted, but a warping of legal rights and guarantees justified the assault.  A careful review of any newspaper, news broadcast, and many politicians speaking will evidence the plasticization of words to justify actions, e.g. President Clinton, “Depends on what your definition of “is” is,” words to couch a threat while seeming to be helpful and friendly, or worst of all hide abuses of others through twisted logic.  Every time words become disconnected from standard meanings, society crumbles, language becomes useless, and the consequences are multi-generational.  Exactly as what transpired in recovering Germany after Hitler’s demise.

I had the great personal pleasure of speaking to a senior from Germany who lived through Hitler’s oppression and the recovery of Germany post-WWII, and the person I spoke with affirmed the most difficult social problem was relearning words and definitions to communicate without the taint of Hitler’s Germanic Language.  Hence, we can draw several lessons from this experience, language is trained and can be retrained, relearning language is a social problem fixed through social interactions and personal knowledge, and personal responsibility and accountability remain pre-eminent in communicating correctly.  Another lesson from my experience, history repeats itself and those with dastardly designs will always corrupt language to gain the advantage, before showing their true colors.  Every single despot in recorded history has employed plastic language to lull the population into acquiescence, before demanding loyalty.

What is a person to do in these difficult times?

Words Defined

  1. Know words and their definitions. Accurately knowing and using language supports society and improves communication. Do not be afraid of dictionaries, thesauruses’, and asking for help in making sure word selection is the best it possibly can.
  2. Ask questions about words used when unsure. If you know a word’s definition and the context appears to be off, be brave, ask questions, and insist upon the other person either clarifying or using more simple language to prove their point.
  3. Stop all use of emotion in communication. The people who insist upon employing passion do so to thwart logic, stop debate, and ruin lives.  If the sender wants to use emotion, stop talking, stop listening, and let the sender belittle themselves.
  4. Speak simply. Write simply.  Language and punctuation are excellent tools to communicate, use them, not emotion, not complicated terms, and know your intent in communicating.
  5. Speak and write specifically. Pronunciation, annunciation, and clarity come with simplicity and desire to build value for others through communicating correctly.  Know the intent of your communications.  Know and understand the purpose.  Answer through the message, “What do I want the receiver to do or know?”
  6. Listen. Forget active listening; active listening is not satisfactory to the societies we currently live in.  Commit to listening reflectively, for in listening reflectively we take active listening skills and add the desire to achieve mutual understanding.  Lacking mutual understanding means communication remains unsettled and unsettled communication breeds areas to abuse words, meanings, and intentions.

Please note, this does not mean someone becomes a communication police officer or communication stormtrooper.  Fighting plastic words is all about the individuals knowing, doing, and being better as a communication sender and receiver.  Aware of the duality of the roles in communicating effectively, with a desire to be the communicator of choice others follow.  Plastic words are intentional, and the person creating plastic words knows full well their fraud and deception, e.g., Ex-Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton.  In choosing to de-plasticize words, we choose to respect those who plasticize words but not speak with them until they become honest communicators while monitoring through listening.

References

Calvert, J. B. (2008, June 13). Words, words. Retrieved April 25, 2015, from https://mysite.du.edu/~jcalvert/humor/words.htm

Poerksen, U. (1995). Plastic words: The tyranny of modular language (J. Mason, & D. Cayley, Trans.). University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Shakespeare, W. (2016). Hamlet [Kindle].

© 2018 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

The images used herein were obtained in the public domain, this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

A Leadership Statement – Shifting the Political Paradigm for a Better America

As a leader, three basic principles drive leadership:  freedom, agency, and learning (Robinson, 1999; Rao, 2013; Tucker, 2001; and Ulrich, 2008).  Three inviolate laws are also present, these inviolate laws are: respect, engagement, and preparation; these laws are guided by the principles of freedom, agency, and learning.  Hand-in-hand, these three principles of leadership and the three inviolate laws govern society.  Image - MSM HandledWe are learning by sad experience that many, especially on college campuses and in professional sports arenas, consider respect to be a one-direction demand, where accountability is not enforced and where the hooligans and terrorists of thought, demand and punctuate their demands with violence. A person, who tries to curtail the thoughts of others with physical, verbal, or emotional abuse, has crossed the line into thought terrorism, and their voice is reduced to nothing, even though mainstream media (MSM) outlets provide these people a soapbox to reach a larger audience.  A person, who demands respect to flow to them and refuses to give respect to others, is abusing verbally and emotionally those they refuse to respect.

Leaders, who embrace the freedoms of their followers, allow them full possession of their individual freedoms, encourage them to employ individual agency, and allow them to be guided by a thirst for learning (Broskowski, 1984; Ekanayake, 2004; and Hoppe, 2006).  Image - John Wayne QuoteThe engaged learner prepares fully in a constant cycle of learn and teach and needs to be supported in this cycle in order to remain a learner preparing to teach and a teacher preparing to learn.  The leader has responsibility for teaching correct principles and embracing the need for the learner to govern himself or herself.  Thoughts and beliefs, opinions, and personal preferences cannot and should not be litigated, forced, or coerced.  Those, who choose to act in a manner not conducive to a quiet and orderly discussion, diminish themselves, harm themselves, and place themselves outside civilization, like the rabid dogs of the west.  The proper response by civilization for those placing themselves in this category, rabid dogs or wolves, remains the same:  permanent separation and removal.

The successful leader is morally obligated to embrace loyal opposition found in those being led and to take and give counsel and guidance to improve plans, implement ideas, and garner the individual buy-in from free agents ensuring integrity, responsibility, and accountability are not lost or forgotten.  The leader is a teacher and a teacher is a leader.  The cycle for learning and teaching does not become lost or less significant as rank is increased.  The inverse occurs. The greater the rank the higher the responsibility to remain engaged in the learning/teaching cycle (Kumle and Kelly, 2006; Maehr and Braskamp, 1986; Nibley, 1987).

Imperative to those with greater authority are the requirements to oversee those to whom authority has been delegated.  Image - Quote Poltics is DirtyWhen those possessing delegated authority use that authority to denigrate, deride, and destroy, that authority needs to be publically stripped, and the individual forced to make amends concurrent with the laws of the land and the expectations of society.  We have come to a point in the laws of America where those with money and powerful political connections (Anthony Weiner) can receive pitiful punishments for dangerous crimes, and those without powerful political friends and money receive far harsher sentences for crimes committed, where standard sentence guidelines include some portion of all of the following: 5-10 years in prison, registering as a sex offender, and fines starting at $50,000 (Lorang, McNiel, & Binder, 2016).

Consider the IRS Scandal, the VA Scandals, and the continuing news cycles where politicians make promises and renege on those promises before the ink is dry on the election result forms.  The staffs to whom authority has been delegated are being allowed to run rampant, and those selected to be leaders are doing nothing to curtail the abuse of power being inflicted upon the population (Perez, 2015).

America, President Trump is a leader, whereas many of the House and Senate are less than the poorest managers ever vested with delegated authority.  Consider Senators McCain, Feingold, and Collins, where Obamacare is concerned, they campaigned on repealing Obamacare, and they continue to actively thwart the legislative process for personal gain (Prokop, 2015).  Leaders, regardless of their field of endeavor and political environment, act, work, and their actions are logically tied to their work.  While one might disagree with the actions based upon personal opinion, the actions taken signify their leadership.  Managers, do not act, are not tied to their actions, and never are held accountable; whereas, the leader and their actions are inseparable.  Hence, while McCain, Feingold, and Collins, among others, will thwart the needs of America for personal gain, Trump will be held accountable for their inaction.  Image - Terrorism DefinedThe same is true for the inaction and legal quandary Obama created at the IRS and the VA, managers performed tasks that were incongruent with the law, were not held accountable, thus the president remains culpable.

Consider how many times “deals” have to be made just to get common sense, helpful, and proper legislation out of committee and in front of the current sitting president.  In real life, “deals” would be considered bribery, collusion, inducements, kickbacks, and blackmail; yet, the citizens accept these legislative maneuvers in the hopes of improving America through legislation.  We are told as children that politics is a dirty business; it has become a dirty business, because those in power and those with delegated power have refused to honor, sustain, and support the laws of the land, the expectations of the citizens they purport to represent, and the illegal use of tax money to conduct these bribes is reprehensible at best.

Currently, the solution remains in the hands of the voters re: stop electing the same old names over and over again.  Why have Senators McCain and Collins become so powerful; tenure in the Senate, McCain since 1981 to present and Murkowski since 2002, and Collins since 1996, they have been living off the public taxpayer for too long!  I am not advocating term limits.  I am advocating an informed and motivated electorate willing to be the leaders they wish to see in office, and holding those in power accountable for the power that has been delegated from “We the People” to those who temporarily hold elected office.  I am advocating for voters to make the election box more important than the TV box, the cubicle box, or the social media box.

I am advocating for the return of a highly charged and logically powered electorate to take back the reins of power from those currently in office, especially those who have continually proven they cannot handle our authority.  For example, Senator Collins has continually proven a weak link by taking positions anathema to her voters, but lacking a viable alternative, her voters return her to power every six-years.  In fact, having lived in her district, I know for a fact there are many of her voters who despise Senator Collins, and hold their nose and vote for her anyway.  Having lived in Senator McCain’s district, the same is said of him when voting every six years, no viable alternative, send the same old name back to power.

Much noise has been made about professional sports players and the refusal to stand for the Anthem and the American Flag.  Under the three principles of leadership and the three inviolate laws, these players do not deserve the jobs they hold, let alone a position of respect.  The reason is simple.  The flag covers all.  Standing for the flag means respect for all, honor for all, and will, regardless of the other person, stand for America as the last bastion of liberty, freedom, and a republican form of government.  The liberties demanded to allow you to sit are the same liberties you are rejecting every time you sit for the anthem and flag ceremony.  All kneeling sports players and flag burners should answer this question: “When you are in trouble, do you want American police, firefighters, EMT’s, and or the American Military personnel to help you?”  If so, why would you contemplate sitting when standing for the flag symbolizes you will help others and sitting proclaims you will not help others.  Since you will not help others, as signified by burning the flag and kneeling or sitting out the national anthem, where should help come from?

I cannot stress enough leadership is needed. Image - Eagle & Flag Leadership begins with those who selected their leaders demanding an accounting for the authority delegated to them.  Use the principles of leadership mentioned and the inviolate laws to correct yourself, your family, and then demand from society the same.  When we do this as a nation standing for liberty, we will succeed, and those naysayers and whiffle-whafflers will be held in eternal contempt because of their actions against us, the citizens of this Republic, the United States of America!

 

© 2017 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

The images used herein were obtained in the public domain, this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

 

 

 

References

Broskowski, A. (1984). Organizational controls and leadership. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 15(5), 645-663. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0735-7028.15.5.645

Dandira, M. (2012). Dysfunctional leadership: Organizational cancer. Business Strategy Series, 13(4), 187-192. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/17515631211246267

Ekanayake, S. (2004). Agency theory, national culture and management control systems. Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge, 4(1), 49-54. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/222857814?accountid=35812

Hoppe, M. (2006). Active listening improves your ability to listen and lead. Greensboro, N.C.: Center for Creative Leadership.

Kumle, J., & Kelly, N. J. (2006). Leadership vs. management. SuperVision, 67(8), 11-13. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/195598300?accountid=458

Lorang, M. R., McNiel, D. E., & Binder, R. L. (2016). Minors and sexting: Legal implications. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 44(1), 73-81.

Maehr, M. L. and Braskamp, L. A. (1986) The motivation factor: A theory of personal investment. Lexington Press, Lexington, MA.

Nibley, H. (1987). Management vs. leadership. Executive Excellence, 4(12), 9. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/204630361?accountid=458

Perez, E. (2015, October 23). First on CNN: DOJ closes IRS investigation with no charges. CNN – Politics. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/23/politics/lois-lerner-no-charges-doj-tea-party/index.html

Prokop, A. (2015, September 25). The GOP can’t quit Obamacare repeal because of their donors. VOX. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/9/25/16339336/graham-cassidy-republican-donors

Rao, M. S. (2013). Soft leadership: a new direction to leadership. Industrial and Commercial Training, 45(3), 143-149. doi: 10.1108/00197851311320559

Robinson, G. (1999). Leadership vs management. The British Journal of Administrative Management, 20-21. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/224620071?accountid=458

Tucker, R. (2001). Innovation: The new core competency. Strategy & Leadership, 29(1), 11-14.

Ulrich, D., Smallwood, N., & Sweetman, K. (2008). The leadership code: Five rules to lead by. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

 

In Defense of the Rule of Law – Restoring “… Liberty and Justice for All”

This letter is pertinent to every American citizen as well as those currently holding public office and those seeking to become politicians. Politics has always been an American passion; we talk politics at work with co-workers, across the fence with neighbors, around the kitchen table with family and trusted friends, and almost everywhere else without exception…including public restrooms. Yes, Americans even discuss politics in public restrooms. Conversations overheard and notes written on walls provide plenty of evidence. This is apt; much of the political theater currently thrust into America’s attention is fit only for flushing.

President Lincoln is quoted thus: “Let every American, every lover of Liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their abuse by others. As the Patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear [down] the character of his own, and his children’s liberty. Let reverence for the [Constitutional] laws [of America]… become the political religion of the nation.”

President Lincoln continued on to proclaim, “When I so pressingly urge a strict observance of all the laws, let me not be understood as saying there are no bad laws, nor that grievances may not arise, for the redress of which, no legal provisions have been made, I mean to say no such thing. But I do mean to say, that, although bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible, still while they continue in force, for the sake of example, they should be religiously observed.” The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume I, “Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois” (January 27, 1838), p. 112.

Americans inherently seem to know right from wrong. Living in a Republic is messy and loud. Yet, from the clamoring on two extreme points, fairness, justice, and mercy continue to stand in the common argument for the regulation of society to ultimately benefit all. Since Americans inherently know right from wrong and are generally just and merciful, the most contemptible actions a politician can make is to forget, upon election, he/she must serve all his/her constituents, not only the political party he/she personally adheres to and represents. This contemptible action, witnessed in many past and current political scandals, simultaneously displayed the actions taken at every level of government from the dogcatcher and school board locally to the president’s office federally. For example, President Obama’s decision to hire Arne Duncan as United States Secretary of Education, the multiplicity of “Czar” appointments, the VA scandal across America, the IRS debacle and the continuing saga this represents, and much more, on both sides of the political aisle, all find their roots in the failure to adhere to the rule of law. Supporting a personal political party’s leanings over the rule of law causes all of America to suffer grievously.

Districts elect their politicians, and an elected politician has only one job, which is to represent the citizens, all citizens of this great Republic, at the level of office elected. This means that the higher in political office, the broader the constituent base, and the higher the public’s trust, and hence the more closely the politician must walk in honoring, obeying, and upholding the laws of the land. If the politician’s first waking breath is not commitment to equality under the law and obedience to America’s Constitutional Law, as described by President Lincoln above, he/she is a charlatan, a hoax, a fraudster, and needs removal from holding a position of public trust. More to the point, failure to honor the elected responsibility to constituents is, by law, criminal negligence and warrants a court of action convened in the form of a public hearing held forthwith to determine status of guilt and accountability under the law for failure to uphold the public trust.

Rugged individuals founded America for people who love Liberty. To love Liberty means fair play and equality under the law as the basic and fundamental building block of society. If an individual personally is unable to tolerate individual liberty, that individual remains free to leave America’s shores and find a more suitable place to live among the other nations on Earth.

Too many people in America have failed to embrace personal liberty for their neighbors; thus, compromising personal liberty for themselves and fundamentally jeopardizing liberty for every American. President Lincoln could not have been plainer on this point, and the extreme examples of the last 20+ years on the Federal, State, and Local government levels are obvious. America is in danger not from without, e.g. terrorism, war, etc., but from within, e.g. politicians, who fail to uphold equality under American Constitutional Law and honor the rule of America’s law. The axiom continues to verify itself, “The wise man in the storm does not pray for deliverance from the storms without, but the storms within.” Direct application of hope, faith, and trust dispels fear as a storm within. If a politician holds a position of public trust, people have placed upon him/her their hope and faith that he/she will honor the rule of law for the benefit of all peoples, not simply those who helped him/her become elected.

A particular point of contention generates with “Special Interest Groups.” Special interest groups do not the full population represent; hence, the reason and label of “Special Interests.” Special interest groups are not capable of representing all the population or they would be called “General Interest Groups,” and not every person in America can be represented by such narrow thinking on any issue, let alone the big issues, e.g. abortion rights, religion, immigration, education, etc. Because “Special Interest Groups” do not represent the full population, limiting special interests, disclosing fully special interest funding sources, and issuing complete disclosure of the reason that particular special interest is pushing a specific legislative agenda are key factors. During the Obamacare debates, in full spectacle of the world, America learned a valuable lesson on the need for full disclosure on special interests. Special interest groups intensely supported, as political favors for the benefit of one political group over all others, software that never lived up to the hype and wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. This decision represented a deleterious action full of contempt for the rule of law rather than equal opportunity under the law for all persons. Anytime public money is used to issue a political favor, public trust is breached, the rule of law flouted, and the need for removal from office necessitated; then such persons are held accountable, along with those politically rewarded, in a court of law, and the public’s money is recovered.

The use of public funds in issuing political favors includes employment. Since public employees necessarily receive their wages from public money, politicians breach the public trust should they hire, as a reward for political favors and the public deserves their money back. Kevin Jennings is a specific example; President Obama, through Arne Duncan while in the office of Secretary of Education, hired Jennings as a “Safe Schools Czar.” Duncan knew Jennings would remain a prominent and outspoken member of the LGBTQ agenda through Jennings’ history with GLSEN, as well as a previous executive director for the group and an admirer of Harry Hays of NAMBLA. It seems particularly ironic that to achieve greater public support, under the leadership of Jennings the group GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) changed its name (1997) from the Gay & Lesbian Independent School Teacher Network (GLISTN). His hire represents a significant breach of public trust as a pusher of the LGBTQ agenda. His role in government put him squarely into a position to coerce America’s Public Schools into becoming breeding grounds for the homosexual agenda instead of bastions for learning. Americans felt abhorred that someone who peddles in pedophilia was now in charge of making schools safer. For the record, anytime a legally recognized adult promotes sex with children under the age of legal majority is committing, or aiding in, the crime of pedophilia. By promoting books on adult/children sex, creating book lists and learning platforms promoting this deviant behavior, Jennings has aided and abetted, at the very least, pedophilia in America’s schools. While claiming success due to President Obama’s assistance, the LGBTQ Agenda became “anti-bullying” at a conference hosted by the White House with President Obama being the keynote speaker.

An investment of public money through employment for the political reward of a constituent is what landed Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois in prison. What put him in prison is and continues to be called, “Pay-to-Play.” Investing in a politician that leads to a reward, e.g. employment, with the ability to “play” with the laws of the land remains despicable and worthy of criminal charges with a public trial for all persons in the chain of decision-making; yes, this includes President Obama.

Rest assured politicians can hire whom they choose, but they must do so ever cognizant of the moral fiber and ethical standards of those hired, and the public trust invested through both the voting booth and tax dollars. Kevin Jennings never showed the slightest inclination to support the rule of law or equality under the law for all people. In fact, many of his friends and associates continue to believe that if a person does not think in a similar manner to themselves, that person needs to be destroyed politically, personally, and professionally, this is also referred to as being “Bork[ed].” Represented and exemplified through the actions of such supporters in the removal of Inspector Generals in the Federal Government at large, the changes specifically within the Department of Education, and the cover-ups in the IRS and VA scandals were all designed to hide truth from the American public. This is dangerous ground for America and represents terrorism at the most fundamental level, the terrorism of thought leading to action while holding a position of public trust paid for by public funds. By using the threat of government action to intimidate, coerce, and force societal change, many in government, like Jennings, are committing terrorist acts.

As the elections of 2016 draw near, this missive belongs to the politicians currently holding office as well as those hoping to hold public office: please uphold the rule of law. Please come out in full and unequivocal support of the rule of law and the liberty of all as the only hope for saving America, even if this means people suffer from the consequences of their poor individual decisions. Embrace the rule of America’s Constitutional law. Taxpayers, as represented by their collective elected officials colloquially known as government, cannot and should never be forced to pay for bad personal decisions with public money. Government is not a charitable organization. Hence, government cannot and should not be investing public money in abortion clinics, drug rehab clinics, and other consequences for poor personal decisions. Charitable and religious organizations are sufficient to this task and public money needs investing elsewhere, e.g. providing for the common defense, ensuring free trade among the states, reducing the debt, or lowering taxes, etc.

Stand for the absolute rule of law and America wins. Failure to stand for the rule of law and America loses, utterly and completely. With the failure to stand for the rule of law, politicians elected and trusted by their constituents, who transform themselves into being inadequate to the task to perform according to law. Their names are thence cast upon the dung heaps of history as charlatans and unpitied betrayers of the struggle to keep America the “…shining city on a hill,” full of “…liberty and justice for all.”

 

© 2015 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved