Cheer is out this year, and peace is in.
With our season preparation, more people are choosing the word “peace” in their holiday cards than “cheer.” According to Minted, a San Francisco-based company that sells paper cards online, orders for cards with “peace” in the message rose 14 percent. “Previous to this year, I couldn’t sell the word ‘peace’ on a holiday card,” says Mariam Naficy, Minted’s founder & CEO.
A Wall Street Journal article brought story to the forefront. As part of the story, they also talked with Matt Gowen, a leader in Hallmark’s Writing Studio. Hallmark describes themselves as “emotional police scanners,” and they took note of the divisiveness of this election and launched a civility project in September. For five days, their writers explored what civility means in daily lives.
Although these messages were too late for the holiday season, words of civility may appear in our cards. The challenge is how to weave civility into future messages. As Matt points out, “Setting an example and being admired are things we don’t always talk about on Christmas cards.”
The Companionship of Peace and Civility
Peace and civility are both nouns. While peace is “a state of mutual harmony between people or groups,” civility is “a polite action or expression.” Both are outcomes. We cannot experience peace or civility without a verb.
We need to act in peace to experience peace.
We need to be civil to experience civility.
The Wall Street Journal article brought peace and civility together, and they are companions. For the rest of this conversation, I will use peace. After all, if we have mutual harmony, my hope it embraces politeness.
The Absence of Peace
Our national discourse is restless. Worse, we enter verbal wrestling rings and stir emotions to the brink. We wonder why or at least I do. We know things in our world are imperfect, and we know we can do more. The reality is the responsibility rests with us. What will we do?
We see in the newspapers and online news sites every day what the lack of peace does.
- Unrest in Chicago with record number of murders.
- Unrest in Dallas with the public pension being in financial disarray.
- Unrest in Washington, DC, with what is next in health care or tax reform.
- Unrest in the Middle East with battles and fears.
The list of the lack of peace in our world and news today is too big, too long. We could fill a room walled with paper and sticky notes of all unpeaceful instances and examples.
What may seem abstract in our nation and world is real in our neighborhoods, homes, and workplaces.
- Economic concerns in making budgets last.
- Unhealthy conditions with rising costs.
- Family members going to extremes with a high cost to those closest to them.
- Unengaging workplace cultures with cornered team members.
The cause of the unrest is different, and the effect is more personal and real.
Both feed upon each other, too. When we see the continued uncertainty on the national and world stage, we feel it more at home and work. If we could take a big worldwide deep breath, we should. We need to refresh what we do and how we do what matters most.
Peace is a state of harmony, and the only way we can get here is to do the work of peace.
We Make Peace Hard
I realize getting to a state of peace is not easy, yet we seem to make it a lot harder than it needs to be. Brokering peace between warring countries is tough. Solving problems in our home, workplace, community, and country seem easier. All takes work.
We make peace hard in some of the following ways:
- We refuse to listen to what the other person and side are saying.
- We refuse to understand what the other person and side are saying.
- We leave problems unsolved yet revisit the problem often.
- We attempt to solve a problem with a narrow solution, leaving more out of a positive outcome than should be the case.
- We bully others to the point of apathy and fear.
- We can only act in the interest of ourselves and our beliefs; no one else really matter.
- We act as if our way is the only right way.
- We twist data to say what we want it to say.
- We point fingers at others while we do nothing.
- We ignore our personal responsibility.
- We don’t help someone who needs a hand up and a place to excel.
- We cocoon ourselves into our neat, small world.
What would you add? We experience different unpeaceful things in our homes and workplace, and we may wish it would be different. We may find it easier to give up than step up.
We need to stop getting in our own way and begin to work toward peace. As important, we need to support others in their work towards peace.
Peace: A Story for the Ages
One of my favorite stories is the Christmas Truce of 1914, which happened during World War I. On the battlefield, two conflicting sides met in the middle to celebrate Christmas, exchanging the gifts they had and playing games. No president or general ordered the truce. The soldiers caught the spirit of Christmas and climbed out of the trenches to extend their hands in peace.
No moment of peace is more compelling than what happened here. If soldiers can drop their weapons and seek peace, why can’t we find a way to drop our self-inflicted barriers and begin to meet in the middle?
How We Can Pursue Peace
Achieving peace isn’t easy, yet it is necessary. Continued unrest is a burden we need to unload, and the best way to bring a deep breath of relief is to pursue peace. Sometimes I think we put peace into a category of “nice to have” but always impossible. Peace is more than a lofty ideal. Peace is a practical pursuit of better results for as many as possible.
Use words that bring people together rather than tear them apart or bring down.
Words do matter, and our actions matter more. We need to speak in ways to bring out the best in others. We need to set the example of how to work with diverse individuals and opinions and achieve results in which everyone can be proud.
Words are not about being politically correct. We know better. However, words are important in how inclusive we are and in how open we are to hearing diverse viewpoints and thoughts. We are all different, so we need to bring together our diversity to achieve common goals.
Words gather many together in peace.
Tackle a problem collaboratively and don’t stop until a solution is agreed to with an action plan and metrics to hold people accountable.
Too often, we kick problems down the road. We need to wake-up to the fact that unsolved problems add to the momentum of unrest. If unrest and discontentment are to be resolved, then we need to solve problems that linger and are important to our bigger goals and higher purpose within our homes, communities, and work.
Problem-solving is not a business problem. Problem-solving is a human problem.Tweet
Problem-solving is not a business problem. Problem-solving is a human problem. Wherever we are, we need to tackle the biggest problems with the most meaningful effort possible. Problem solving needs to bring together the best diversity we have so we craft the best solutions possible. Mixed in is a dissimilar set of talents and skills to work the agreed to plan and begin to achieve the intended results.
Collaboration facilitates peace.
Change your family and work relationships to where you work together on a purpose greater than your individual self-interest.
Relationships is where our words and actions meet. Developing strong relationships requires us to understand what is most important for the bond we have or want to have. When we understand the relationship requirements, each will need to change behaviors, words, and actions. To build the best possible relationships, we need to be open to change, learning, and growth.
Think about it. Change. Learning. Growth. Each is an essential ingredient to growing strong relationships. We work together, adapting and gaining strength in how we can tackle any problem or situation. And, yes, having a loving attitude and approach helps. If love is too soft, then replace loving with caring for or appreciating another, and your work mindset will change. Heart-centered leadership works, too.
Relationships create peaceful spaces.
Peace is much more than an international symposium or treaty negotiation.
Peace is a state of community progress in which racial and economic gaps begin to close.
Peace is a state of family love in which bickering converts into real partnerships.
Peace is a state of workplace growth in which closed-mindedness disappears to the possibilities of collaborative results.
Peace is not work for diplomats. Peace is the work of leaders. Leaders are present within our families, neighborhoods, and workplaces, and we need to step up to the responsibility of peace.
Listening and empathy are discussed much more than done. The reality is simple. If we do the three suggestions above, more listening and empathy will result. What happens is peace, a state of harmony. Will the peace last? It will last for as long as we continue to do the work and forge ahead in building relationships that lift us up to the standard of peace.
Peace doesn’t need to be that hard. We need to activate peace.
How will you use peace in a practical way within your work life?
Join the Conversation
Why Is Peace So Hard in Our Weekly Work?
Years ago, when I first read the Anatomy of Peace, I read it, but didn’t really internalize it until much later. Now I understand that peace is impossible when we see other human beings as objects in our way. More importantly, it’s only with a heart at peace that we can truly begin to create meaningful change in the world.
As always, thanks, Jon.
Sounds like a great book, Alli. I will need to check it out. I believe it is time to stop thinking of lofty ideals as just something we share on a napkin or an image. We need to put them into practice, and peace may be a solid place to begin. Thank you! Jon