“Never let the ‘issue du jour’ obscure what is really important.”
~ Bill Crawford
Subscribe to Dr. Bill’s “Quotes and Wisdom from the Top of the Mind” Newsletter
The Problem With “The Issue Du Jour”
Have you ever found yourself looking back on an argument, but not remembering exactly what the argument was about? For most people this is a pretty common experience, and the reason is that the argument was probably about what is called the “issue du jour,” or the issue of the day (or even the moment).
In other words, what was driving the discussion was a debate about “who’s right!” with regard to a particular issue, but what was missing in the debate was an understanding of what is truly important. For example, if the argument was between two relationship partners, then what was missing was the foundation for the relationship. Why are you with this person? Chances are, because you love them and they love you. However, that love was not a part of the conversation.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that we must start every sentence with “I love you,” especially if that is followed by the word “but.” It just means that we need to be aware that every time we are interacting with those we love, we are effecting that relationship in a powerful way.
Now, I’m sure most people would feel that it’s important to be able to have different opinions with those they care for and still feel close to them. However, if we let “who’s right” on “the issue du jour” be the most important aspect of the conversation, with no awareness of the love that is the foundation of the relationship, damage can occur.
The same goes for our conversations with those within our organization. If we let the problem dominate the exchange with no awareness of how this conversation will effect our relationship with that person in the future, then that future relationship can suffer along with our ability to be influential with this person.
Again, this doesn’t mean that we don’t stand up for what we believe, it just means we do this with an awareness of what’s truly important (the foundation of this relationship) and how our advocating for our perspective will affect our ability to have meaningful conversations in the future.
And while this is extremely important with adults for the reasons already mentioned, it is crucial when we are talking to our kids. Why? Because, as they grow, children are forming their beliefs about themselves and the world based upon their experiences, and these beliefs will go on to influence their decisions as they become adults. Further, the most important experiences that shape a child’s perspective on who they are and their place in the world are their interactions with their parents or adults guardians.
Therefore, if as a parent we are focused on the issue du jour, such as cleaning a room, or making a certain grade in school, we are potentially doing damage to that child’s belief about their own worth or value. Now, does this mean we should never tell a child to clean their room or make good grades? No, it just means that we do this in a way that has them feeling good about themselves and the value of cooperation and being part of a loving family. In other words, what’s truly important.
If this resonates with you, I suggest we take more responsibility for the quality of our conversations with people, especially when we are discussing problems and having different perspectives about “who’s right.” Let’s make sure we don’t let the “issue du jour” dominate the discussion and/or create an argument to the point where we can’t remember what we were arguing about. Let’s instead remember what is truly important (which is the quality of the relationship, now and in the future) and engage in discussions that keep this critical concept in the top of the mind.
Take care and God bless, Dr. Bill