It’s no secret that people are fed up with politicians who talk out of both sides of their mouth.
It is well established that one of the factors that played heavily in the last election was a widespread desire for frankness and authenticity, and a disdain for political correctness and diplomatic doublespeak.
The downside to this new trend toward blunt honesty is a concomitant tendency toward crassness and callousness. For the sake of authenticity, we may be veering too far into incivility and brutality.
Where is that fine line between diplomacy and authenticity? How do we strike that elusive balance between dissimulation on the one hand and disrespect on the other?
The comedian Robert Orben said “we have enough people who tell it like it is – now we could use a few who tell it like it can be.” In other words, while there is clearly virtue in honesty, there is also a vital need for leaders who can inspire us to be our better selves who can together craft a better future.
In 2013, journalist Sally Kohn delivered an inspiring TED talk entitled “Let’s Try Emotional Correctness” which is certainly as relevant today as it was then. Kohn suggests that what we need is not a watering down of ideals, opinions, or principles, but rather a sensitivity toward our shared humanity, and an emotional maturity that will enable us to treat each other with respect and courtesy even when we disagree.
The challenge is to be both frank and friendly, to be both genuine and generous at once. With emotional intelligence and “emotional correctness”, there is no reason we need to sacrifice civility for honesty, and every reason we can simultaneously “tell it like it is” and “tell it like it can be.”
To watch Sally Kohn’s TED talk, click here or on the photo above.
Marc Erlbaum, Contributor