Top of Mind Thursday September 28, 2017: A Knee-Jerk Reaction

Top of Mind Thursday

There’s been a flurry of reactions to the decision by professional athletes to kneel during the playing of the national anthem.

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Quarterback Colin Kaepernick started this practice last year as a way to express his frustration with the treatment of African Americans and other minorities in the US. Though a few others had joined him, this was not a widespread movement until this past week, when President Trump elevated the issue in a series of tweets.

Mr. Trump and others have incorrectly said this has to do with disrespecting the flag or insulting the American military. His suggestion that NFL owners fire players who express their opinions created a backlash that resulted in entire teams, including owners,  joining together to kneel–or for some teams to not take the field till after the anthem is played.

Publicly calling out athletes for the wrong reasons has resulted in unprecedented solidarity and support for those who were not being heard before. But it has also raised the level of divisiveness our country.

This is what happens when we react to the behavior of others without understanding the situation at hand. I suspect that if Kaepernick and others felt there was another appropriate venue for their views to be heard, they wouldn’t need to kneel. Publicly calling out people who disagree with you does not eliminate disagreement or move the process forward–it only adds fuel to the fire.

Are you prepared to handle public disagreement with your business? Take the time now to think of a more effective way to engage with those who disagree with you. Nothing good comes from a knee-jerk reaction.

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