Most elections do tend to raise conflict: conflict in homes where there is political divide, conflict amongst friends where there is disagreement on policies and candidates, and even conflict because of coworkers because of differing opinions on who to back.
There is nothing wrong with conflict. In fact, it’s healthy to have and to resolve conflicts through open discussion and debate, or even to not resolve them but to maintain a mutual respect of other parties.
The problem is, this election, more so than any of the hotly contested ones I have personally seen in this country in years prior with still-felt impact, is divisive.
Last night, I started watching the debate on a Facebook Live feed and I had to change midway through to another method of attendance. Why? Because these were some of the comments that were floating up at the bottom of my screen:
- “Why don’t we just Killary?”
- “Choke the b***h!”
- “Is she dead yet?”
Now, I did not see as many, in that tone, in reference to the other candidate, Mr. Trump, but regardless: the above is not okay.
That is not debate; that is not discussion; that is not passionate argument. It is what my mother would call “gutter talk” and does not belong in polite, public conversation.
One could argue that Facebook is not necessarily public conversation. It is a private space and we live in a world where people can say whatever they like. I would go 50/50 with you on that: Facebook now tends to be public and yes, we have the right to say what we like.
But, corporate HR people, managers, pay attention: Facebook is not anonymous. These are real people (in many cases) saying real things with their names attached to it.
If you think for one second that this is not coming into the office, then you are wrong. It’s already there. People are already feeling the tension. People are already holding onto resentment and forming subconscious opinions on the value of other people based on who they choose to support, on what they look like, on their perception of what their coworkers should or should not have earned (or was given to them), or what rights they should or should not have. It is already ugly and it’s going to get even uglier before November 8th.
However, it is not the lead-up to November 8th that everyone should be concerned about. It is going to be what happens after.
Lester Holt was run over quite a bit as a moderator last night, but he did manage to hold to this one last question at the end:
“Will you accept the outcome of the election as the will of the voters?”
Clinton: “Well, I support our democracy. And sometimes you and sometimes you lose, but I certainly will support the outcome of this election.”
Trump: “I want to make America great again. I’m going to be able to do it. I don’t believe Hillary will. The answer is if she wins I will absolutely support her.”
I’ll leave detailed textual analysis to the efforts, but immediately on the surface:
- Those are very different answers.
- They reflect the different styles of the candidates.
- They will be reflected in the post-election actions of the candidates supporters.
Depending on who wins in November, I would not be surprised if we saw an uptick in:
- Culture dishevel and splintering
- Unexpected job changes
- Workplace violence (verbal and/or physical)
All I can say is this to companies of America: brace yourselves.