Complicit--Are you?--Interpersonal Communication Skills Training  

Blog for Dan O'Connor by Jean M. Schmith

" names 'complicit' word of the year."

Yes, complicit becomes an important word when discussing some of the most pressing topics of the day, e.g. sexual harassment; bullying; illegal activities of our leaders; hate speech--and much much more.  The question of who is complicit is much like Dan's oft-repeated truth that "There is no neutrality in the universe.  We are constantly transforming our environment or being transformed by it."  In other words, we are actively or silently complicit with what is happening around us, or we are taking action to change those things we view as wrong.

Examining our complicity:

When you are aware of sexual harassment--either in the workplace or a private setting--do you remain silent or do you take constructive action to stop the harasser?

When you see bullying--either in the workplace, the schoolyard, the home, at a restaurant, in the park, on the subway--do you remain silent or do you immediately go and stand with the person being bullied?

When you see politicians who are lying, engaging in illegal activities, covering up inappropriate actions, do you vote for them again, because they are members of your party, or do you take measures to defeat them?

When you hear someone using hateful language, either while telling a "joke" or discussing a person or an issue--or even aiming those words at an individual, do you remain silent or do you shine a spotlight on the hateful and destructive nature of what they are saying (perhaps with a spotlight question such as: "It sounds as though you are saying . . . .  Is that what you meant to say?")

And finally--What do you teach your children about these things, bearing in mind that the best teacher is always example?

Before pointing to others as "complicit," it might be wise to look at our own behavior and our own speech, to make certain we aren't complicit in allowing ourselves to be transformed by the negative elements of our environment.  Our interpersonal relationships should all be characterized by positive transformation.  Our business and political decisions should all be characterized by positive transformation.  And certainly our influence on the next generation (read: our children) should be characterized by positive transformation.  This means never being complicit when those around us choose to be negative or hateful--never.


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