Can we actually learn how to get along?
According to Wikipedia, the term “Road Rage” was coined by television hosts in Los Angeles in the midst of a number of violent road encounters around 1987–88. It describes violent and aggressive behavior by motorists.
Most people agree that road rage is bad. It can cause traffic jams, property damage, and even death. Drivers are taught to yield and practice other safe driving behavior. Central to that are the ideas that we share the roads, that carelessness and accidents can happen despite our best intentions, that smart behavior not only minimizes or prevents damages, but also saves time, money, and lives.
There’s no surprise that people are divided and angry over politics and social issues. Most people are not taught how to have calm and productive discussions about challenging topics. What I wish to do is introduce the term “Ideological Rage”. I describe it as aggressive and intimidating behavior when discussing ideas. We’ve all seen people dig in, get angry and emotional, and use all kinds of arguments to “support” their beliefs.
Ideological Rage, like road rage, should be recognized as unproductive and dangerous. To combat it, we need a campaign with sophisticated training to promote smart and efficient discourse. We need to acknowledge that we share our homes, workplaces, communities, and the planet. We need to encourage yielding or listening, instead of interrupting. We want people to withhold judgment so others can express their real concerns, not their anger and frustration. We want to help others speak with candor, insight, and dignity, so we can save time, money, and lives.
Within our families, do we always agree with each other? I know I don’t. But we all know that there’s no point arguing over everything. We learn to listen, put ourselves in others’ shoes, choose our battles, fight fair, and to compromise.
Corporations have a pressing need to address equality and discrimination issues among their ranks. Social media companies need to fight Ideological Rage on their platforms. We, however, can all benefit from the efficient flow of ideas, cooperation, and synergy. We simply need to take the lessons we’ve learned from the road, supercharge them, and apply them as widely as possible.
See my article about how to understand and respect others despite superficial differences. To learn more about listening, you can check out my book and online course: