Tactic 23: Remain Civil, Even With Those You Don’t Really Like

It was big news in Washington, D.C., when Representative Allen West (R-FL) referred to Representative Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-FL) as “vile, despicable, and cowardly” as well as “not a lady” during a dust-up up over spending caps and the Medicare budget. Not only was it not exactly nice, but he completely violated Capitol Hill’s unspoken civility rules. His comments were in response to her statement that “[t]he gentleman from Florida, who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries. Unbelievable from a member from south Florida.” Ironically, Wasserman Schultz maintained the “civility code” by referring to West as the “gentleman from Florida,” even while blasting his position on the issue.

Some considered West’s comments to reflect the extreme partisanship (accompanied by extreme nastiness) that surrounded the issue. In the end, it certainly didn’t help West’s cause and now the two Representatives have difficulty working together to benefit their region of the country. In short, no matter whose fault it is, the take-away is that it’s important to remain civil, even with those you don’t really like. The Influence Game will show you how.

Of course, some people are absolutely toxic. This is as true for the political world as it is for the real world. There’s even an annual survey run by Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill, rating the “likeability” of members of Congress. Year after year the same legislators show up on the top of the list of the unliked. Not only are these individuals bad for moving forward a policy issue, it’s no fun to work with them. For your own influence situation you’ll want to figure out who these people are and avoid them. Just don’t be rude while doing it.

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