Another election week has come to a close – and with it, tons of behavioral implications of which I took note. For me, it was an emotional roller coaster. As expected, I cycled through feelings of pride, hope and sadness. With each election:

  • I am proud of our democracy. The fact that we have a voice and are able to vote makes my heart swell.
  • I remain very hopeful with the outcome – even when my candidate of choice does not win.
  • I am saddened by the way in which some people express their frustrations.

I was discouraged yesterday (as I am every election cycle) to see how some individuals (on both sides) focus more on bashing their opponents, rather than celebrating the accomplishments of their own candidates. Poor sportsmanship, in any form, does not set a good example – and we need not feed those behaviors.

Barbara Coloroso wrote a great book about a decade ago called The Bully, The Bullied and the Bystander. In it she wrote about the great power bystanders have in impacting behavior. Though people often focus on the person being bullied or the “bully”, she argues the greatest power and agent of change comes from the bystanders, or onlookers. I couldn’t agree more.

As onlookers we need to remember that attention is power. So, when kids (or adults) demonstrate poor behaviors through words or actions, don’t provide an audience. Don’t comment. Avert your eyes. Step away. I truly believe the less we focus on and feed inappropriate behaviors, the more quickly we will be able to extinguish them.

In case you didn’t notice, this post has implications for dealing with behavior on many levels – be it with your kids, family members, colleagues, elected officials… The choice is yours.