From the debate stage to the water cooler, the vitriol and animosity this election season seem to have reached new heights. Healthy and vigorous debate is important to democracy, our differences should be celebrated, and there are times when more adversarial avenues of dispute resolution (like the courts and ballot box) are most appropriate. However, there are many times when we can do better by getting along, despite our differing and strongly held opinions and beliefs. This is true in our personal and professional lives, and the public arena.
Seven interviews in one week on the Frenemies Project, and widespread media coverage on the cleavages widening in workplaces, on social media, and elsewhere, underscored for me that relationships are being frayed and people are not happy about it.
In response, this is a call for November 9th – the day after election day – to be National Frenemies Day. Think of it as an opportunity to detox and (re)discover each other’s humanity. A call to increase empathy and mutual understanding. This is not a call to avoid the issues that matter to us, but rather to respectfully discuss them with someone that we consider(ed) a friend, a family member, or a colleague that we like and/or have to work with, but that we know holds fundamentally opinions than we do.
Happy Frenemies Day!
Todd Schenk, Virginia Tech (October 27, 2016)