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Rage Feeds Rage: So Take A Bite Of Some Happy Pie

A while back I wrote about how angry America seems to be and how as business people, we need to make sure our products don’t wind up on the forefront of consumer rage. The piece got me thinking about another question – why are we so angry?

A
while back I wrote about how angry America seems to be and how as
business people, we need to make sure our products don’t wind up on the
forefront of consumer rage. The piece got me thinking about another
question – why are we so angry?

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I can’t help but be startled by the
mass frustration that is strewn across the television and web. And
maybe that’s the problem – maybe we are seeing so much rage and then in
turn are becoming angrier.

A few months ago I did a series of blogs based on my interview with Dr. Marco Iacoboni, the author of Mirroring People:  The New Science of How We Connect with Others.  Iacoboni, a neurologist and neuroscientist, is a leading authority on a recently discovered system in the brain called the “mirror neuron system.”

Iacoboni’s research has shown that we see other people as ourselves reflected as if in a mirror. In other words, I will understand a situation or an individual’s feelings because my mirror neurons pretend that I am going through the same thing.

The
traditional humanistic view is that we are all individualists, and we
only care about ourselves and our self-preservation. The discovery of
mirror neurons clearly shows that this isn’t the case, and instead, we
are wired to feel empathy.

So if we smile when we see smiling people, then doesn’t the same thing happen when we see rage? When we are surrounded by anger, then we become angrier. So despite the fact that we are actually wired to be empathetic and good, the bombardment of negative images makes us more negative.

Think
about it – there is rage everywhere. The news keeps showing angry town
hall protests, people are booing at the Opera, and pundits scream at
one another on television. It’s no wonder people are
so angry. Add in genuine fear
– fear of losing jobs, fear of growing national debt, and fear of
terrorist nations – and we are a melting pot of water getting ready to
boil.

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So
how do we fix this? Well, we could start with remembering what’s good
about our society as a whole. The news could show a few positive
stories for a change, and maybe President Obama can use some of that
calm charm to remind us that we are in this fight as one country, one
people.

Iacoboni
says that “labels” are what drive people apart. Because humans tend to
separate each other into groups, we lose some ability to empathize with
people on a humanistic level.

And
he’s right. For example, let’s look at the healthcare debate. What’s
interesting is that almost everyone out there can agree that some
healthcare reform is necessary. But our leaders cannot find common
ground. Democrats took tort reform off the table from the beginning and
Republicans won’t even discuss a public option. The refusal to see the
debate from multiple perspectives will cause none of us to win.

So
let’s get on the same page. Let’s bend a little so that the country
doesn’t break. Let’s remember that this is our home, our nation, and
that our diversity and work ethic make us great. And ask yourself the questions below to see how you can do a better job of uniting your office, family or community.

  1. What activities can we perform to make our office or family feel more like a team?
  2. Is there a new product, service or discount that my company can provide to spread the message of inclusion?
  3. Can I partner with other local companies to strengthen my local community and economy?
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About the author

Author of Outthink the Competition business strategy keynote speaker and CEO of Outthinker, a strategic innovation firm, Kaihan Krippendorff teaches executives, managers and business owners how to seize opportunities others ignore, unlock innovation, and build strategic thinking skills. Companies such as Microsoft, Citigroup, and Johnson & Johnson have successfully implemented Kaihan’s approach because their executive leadership sees the value of his innovative technique. Kaihan has delivered business strategy keynote speeches for organizations such as Motorola, Schering‐Plough, Colgate‐Palmolive, Fortune Magazine, Harvard Business Review, the Society of Human Resource Managers, the Entrepreneurs Organization, and The Asia Society

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