Passionate, purposeful and persuasive discourse

Without passion, leaders, managers and spokespersons fail to inspire.   If people can’t see how much you care, why should they care?  I coach individuals to communicate their passion and conviction.

And yet…my 20-year old son is helping me understand how passion can sometimes paralyze instead of persuade.  As a very political individual with strongly held beliefs, values and opinions, these mid-term elections have absolutely consumed me.  I screech at the TV during the non-stop political ads.  I grunt to myself as I read the latest polls and pundits’ predictions.  I’ve started to rant in political discussions with people who hold different opinion and even like-minded friends find the temperature of my discourse far too hot.  I’ve now taken that dangerous step beyond passion.   It’s almost as if this usually reasonable communication expert temporarily has a sign on my chest that warns people not to approach.    My husband and I were invited to dinner this weekend but the host wondered if I’d want to come because she and I hope for different outcomes next Tuesday.

My flawed rationale is that I care so deeply – am so passionate – about what I believe that I can’t temper my response.  My very wise son observed that if my goal is just to rant I am absolutely hugely successful.  But if my goal is to help persuade others to my political perspective, my all consuming passion is far from effective.

My son has reminded me that:

  1. Passion together with purpose leads to success.
  2. Passion that obliterates another way of thinking poisons any hopes for rational discourse.
  3. Successful communication always requires respectful listening…especially when our own passionate positions make it really, really hard to feel respectful or listen.

I will try very hard to take a deep breath and engage in passionate but also purposeful and persuasive discourse between now and Tuesday.

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