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We are living in unprecedented times when a widening divide and a lack of civility threaten relationships, and the ability to make thoughtful decisions based on facts seems scarce.

As evidenced by the recent impeachment proceedings and the State of the Union address, the political divide runs deep along partisan lines and threatens the very premise on which our country’s foundation was built.

Civility in business and politics is challenged, and this threatens our ability to respect each other based on open communication, collaboration and trust.

As we enter the throes of this election year, where do we go from here?

One of the first places to start is to engage and to follow in the footsteps of our constitutional forefathers who, despite their divisions, continued to debate with genuine and honest civility. The irrefutable test of civility is not when policies and issues are easy or obvious, but rather when policies make us uncomfortable and anxious.

Conflict is natural and usually inevitable, differences of opinions are human, but lack of civility in conflict resolution is not what made our country great.

What made our country great are the values that everyone has a voice, everyone is equal, and everyone deserves a chance to speak and be heard in a courteous manner.

Today, political conflict resolution looks like everyone going to their corner and automatically circling the wagons around their partisan camps. Once the divide reaches this level, all anyone is seeking is the easy “gotcha” power plays. That’s what rallies their base and provides the illusion that those elected officials are fighting on their behalf.

The business community practices conflict resolution in a totally different manner. They are not interested in gotcha moments and have never achieved sustainability by everyone negotiating from their corners.

On the contrary, tribalism and polarization in the board room only serve to isolate those that are not committed to finding a solution for the advancement of the company.

At the end of the day, not everyone in the board room will be happy with a decision, but everyone will work toward whatever is in the best interest of their shareholders.

We have heard on numerous occasions from business executives when they say, “I am a businessperson first and a Republican or Democrat second.”

The private sector does not thrive on conflict, but on stability and predictability in order to develop an effective competitive strategy. Success can only thrive in finding a delicate balance between risk and growth and any existing conflict will derail any efforts of growth.

Life is presenting us with unchartered waters, and the waves are pushing us all into different directions.

But like the surfer eyeing his chosen wave, we need to focus on our core values and common ground.

Robert Ficano is former Wayne County executive and sheriff and can be heard Sundays, 8 a.m., on 910 AM.

Mark S. Lee is founder, president & CEO of The LEE Group, and can be heard Sundays, 11 a.m., on 910 AM.

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