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Being dismissive won’t help you…

Jeff Mercier Climbing Le Piler de Temple, WI5, Saguenay Fjords National Park, Quebec

Yesterday while Andrea and I were making supper the doorbell rang, as per usual Trango lost his mind barking uncontrollably and pretending he was the guard dog of the house.

After corralling him into the bathroom near the front door, Andrea answered it to find someone going door-to-door to rally support for the local UCP candidate in our area.

For those that don’t know Alberta is having a provincial election at the end of the month and UCP stands for United Conservative Party. Think Moderate Republicans if you are reading from the States.

The short and quick interaction we had with the UCP promoter made me think back to the Rick Pitino book I’m currently reading, Success is a Choice where he discusses the art of communication.

For those that don’t know, Rick is one of the greatest NCAA basketball coaches of all time, and it’s March Madness, so I decided to read a couple of his books this month.

In his chapter on communication, he talks about being attentive and creating an impression that the conversation is important to you and that you value it. For the most part, he provides basketball examples and uses his experiences from coaching and extrapolates them to business and life.

He says “You must look people in the eye and pay attention. It is at the core of the art of listening. At a basic level, this is just being courteous, treating people the way we would want to be treated.”

“It’s also just smart.”

“Who knows? Someday those people you’re virtually dismissing could be in a position to help you in business.”

He goes further to give an example of where he was talking to a sports writer that he knew who happened to be standing with someone else. He completely ignored the other person almost to the point of being rude…

Later he learned that person was the sports editor of one of the most prominent newspapers in the country…

He doesn’t know what impression he left with that person at the time, but he knows it wasn’t good.

He says he learned a lesson that day and it stayed with him.

Circle back to the UCP candidate at the door.

He asked us if we were going to vote and if the UCP could count on our support. We said we were unsure at this time.

The whole interaction felt like it often does with older condescending people…

“You young punks aren’t going to vote anyway” was the vibe he was putting off and honestly it was a huge turnoff.

He was incredibly dismissive of us, and it felt like pulling teeth to get his little pamphlet from him. It really felt like he was wasting his time with us. Even if he didn’t feel that way, it was the vibe he was putting off. He certainly wasn’t looking in our eye, paying attention and creating the impression that the conversation was important to him like Rick talks about in his book.

Contrast that with when we left the house 2 mins later to go grocery shopping he was chatting it up outside on the street with another older neighbour like they were best buds.

I’m confident he was thinking we weren’t going to vote or that because we were younger that we were voting for another party. He certainly didn’t leave a good impression with us, and unbeknownst to him, I am totally undecided about who to vote for this time around.

Previously I have voted for the Conservatives based on their fiscal policies but this time around I’m having a hard time supporting them based on their social policies. I had been leaning away from supporting them and then we have this experience.

The feeling to me this time around is that they are not supportive of people who don’t look or believe what they do. Insert skin colour, religion and sexual orientation here. Maybe add age in there too based on our experience. This gentleman indeed wasn’t interested in spending the time to talk to us about their policies.

We were interested in finding out if they have a similar plan to diversify the Alberta economy or if they are just doubling down on oil and gas. I wanted to know if they have something in the works like the 100M that the NDP plan to spend to grow the artificial intelligence sector in Alberta because Andrea’s work parallels this, but he didn’t seem like he wanted to chat at all.

A lot like when Rick was dismissive to the sports editor of the biggest newspaper in America he was confident he hadn’t left a good impression.

Just like Rick learned a lesson from that experience it was re-enforced with me and our interaction yesterday afternoon.

When we are trying to communicate with people, we need to be attentive and create the impression that the conversation is important to us.

Like Rick says, “It’s also just smart.”

“Someday those people you are virtually dismissing could be in a position to help you in business.”

In this case, it is not business; it’s politics, and the “someday” is the end of the month when we vote.

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