The Demise of Civil Discourse

February 18, 2024
*This page may contain affiliate links. If you purchase from these links we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Shouting over people and cancelling them has become so commonplace that people are numb to the impact.  The incident pictured above, which was seen by over 120 million people last week is pathognomonic of a trend.  So, it’s a worthy topic to consider this President’s Day.

We think of such behaviors as common in Dictatorships, Autocracies, third world countries and on the football field.  The death of the Russian critic, Alexei Navalny who was poisoned, is an example of the ultimate cancellation.

The American Revolution was ignited by King George III’sreaction to the Boston Tea Party, a colonial cry for taxation relief.   Rather than seeking to understand the matter, Britainimposed even stronger sanction on the Colonies.  This lack of appreciation of the situation caused the King and his advisors to assess the cause of the incident as having been too soft or lenienton the colonies.  They therefore promoted and celebrated the passage in Parliament of the Coercive Acts of 1774.  Theirreaction to the cries of the colonies?  Harsher measures aimed to master or subdue them. George Washington and the Continental Congress had a surprising response.

Along with celebrating Presidents Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays, this week also marks the inauguration of Jefferson Davis, a homegrown example of the dangers ofmiscommunication.

On February 22, 1862, Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as the first president of The Confederated States of America.  A United States Senator, he was a celebrated general, trained at West Point and famous for his strategy and victory in the Battle of Buena Vista (1847) during the Mexican-American war.  A reconciliationist, on January 21, 1861, Davis made an impassioned farewell speech on the floor of the Senate, pleading for peace.

After being elected as President by the new Confederacy, Davis’first act was to send a peace commission to Washington DC, attempting to avoid an armed conflict.  Not only did Lincoln refuse to see the delegation, his response was to send armed ships to Charleston to resupply the Union troops at Fort Sumter.  The War Between the States began.

There are numerous examples of how one aspect of miscommunication, the failure to appreciate the nuance or reason behind communications, can have dire consequences.  One sign that communications are proceeding down a dangerous path, is the use of labels or derogatory names for the interlocutors.  The British referred to the colonists as “Yankees”or “Whigs”, while the Americans called the British, “Red Coats”.  The Union called Confederates, “Rebels” and the Southerners called the northerners “Yankees” continuing the British insult.

Today we are again seeing names and labels bandied about.  “Lefties”, “Libs” and “MAGA” serve as barriers to rather than encouragement for open dialogue.  The internet and social media exacerbate the situation, enabling echo chambers rather than providing clear communication of idea and opinions.  Truth and civil discourse have become increasingly difficult to discern.

A house divided is a house in danger.  The lessons of the past forgotten promotes perilous outcomes.

In a dental practice, a lack of effective communication might not have as dire a consequence, but it can result in a fractured culture, poor performance and even treatment miscues.

The topic of our monthly Coffee With The Coach webinars will be Communication. In part I of this multiple part series, “Intra-Office Communications” we’ll cover:


o Understanding the Dynamics
o Identifying Barriers
o Strategies for improved communication
o Tools and Technologies
o Relationship building strategies.


These 35-minute webinars will be followed with time for questions for those attending live.  Recordings will be available for members of The Liberated Practice program.

I wish you a Happy President’s Day,


Practice Success Insights

Sign up to receive insights into building a successful practice via email with the free Practice Perfect Pearls Newsletter.
Dr. Michael Goldberg is one of the leading educators on dental practice management in the United States.

Michael ran and sold a prestigious group practice in Manhattan and has been on Faculty at Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian Medical Center for 30 years including Director of the GPR program and Director of the course on Practice Management.

Book a FreeStrategy Session

Latest Articles

How to Stop Cancellations... without spending more.

Learn how successful practices ensure their appointment slots are filled... and their patients keep coming back!


The Proven Way to
Reboot Your Practice...

Increase profitability, decrease stress and achieve your goals with proven ways to ensure your practice thrives


From Hello to Hugs

Get the sensational book on how to turn callers into raving fans. A guide to making MORE from LESS in your dental practice.


Join Michael LIVE for the FREE Monthly Coffee With the Coach Webinar

Invite your entire team and get expert advice from an industry expert on a new, timely topic every month that you can implement in your practice right away.