Perfect words

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Update: Readers had some fantastic suggestions to my request for help in figuring out what to say to a team the day after the election. Check out some of them here.

Who wants to help me? Every four years, people say it’s the most important election of their lifetimes. But this time, it feels like people really believe it. Like they’re not just saying it.

So, I have a question, which is basically: What should we do on the day after Election Day? What do we say?

Technically, that’s two questions, but I’m not asking rhetorically. I’m asking you for suggestions.

In fact, one of my editors at Inc.com asked recently if I’d consider writing an article for the day after the election about exactly that: What should you say?

Especially if you’re in charge of people — you’re a boss, or a business owner, or in some other leadership capacity. What do you say to your team on November 4?

If people are looking to you, what do you tell them?

I admit, at first I didn’t want to touch this topic. But then, I thought about it overnight, and I realized: Yes, I do have something to say.

Also, I think it’s good that I’m thinking about it now, days ahead of time, before we know who won — or if there even will be a winner on November 4 (or if we’ll be waiting days, weeks, or even months for a final decision).

I’ll touch briefly on my ideas below, but before this gets buried, I’d really like your advice.

No matter who wins, a big of America is going to be ecstatic or relieved, and another big part is going to be angry or even distraught.

What do you say in that kind of situation?

As I’m beginning to think about my answer, three things come to mind.

First, I don’t want to be either pollyannish or alarmist. I mailed my ballot weeks ago, and it wasn’t a close decision for me. I think the winner of this matters, a lot. But, I also don’t think that we’re headed to either Shangri-La or immediately straight down the tubes depending on who wins.

In other words, it’s crucial, but not literally vital.

Second, let me just quote myself from an issue a few months back:

We need to work harder to understand each other. We don’t have to agree with each other necessarily, and we don’t have to convince each other of very much. We don’t even really have to like each other. But we should try to understand. (Also, no matter who wins, no gloating allowed.)

Finally, I keep coming back to the idea that as messy and angry as this is all going to be, it’s better than the alternative. We don’t have widespread violence (knock on wood, and pray to God) during our elections as in some countries. There are countries whose people would envy our situation.

Anyway, those are just my initial thoughts. They’re not perfect words; I’m not sure if I’d ever reach that on this subject. But, “I write what I've learned, so I can learn what I think.”

So, I’d like to know what you think. If you’re up for it, reply to this email, or post in the comments. (I’ll assume it’s OK to quote you anonymously, unless you tell me not to, or say it’s all right to use your name.)


Speaking of elections… We’re down to 5 days left before Voting Day. As of last night, 75,792,256 ballots had already been returned. Remember: Don’t vote by mail at this late date—it’s probably too late!


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