Can you be honest? Practicing decency in a world that has become mean

I’ve become more and more pessimistic about where this world is going, especially with all the social media meanness that has normalized bullying. The war in Ukraine has only made matters worse. In the past five years I believe the world has become a lot meaner. What can we do about it?

On The Small Business Radio Show this week, I spoke with David Bodanis, the author of “The Art of Fairness: The Power of Decency in a World Turned Mean”. He studied Mathematics, Physics and History at the University of Chicago and taught the “Intellectual Toolkit” course at Oxford for many years. His books include the New York Times bestseller, “The Secret House,” and the bestseller “E=mc²,” which was adapted into the PBS documentary “Einstein’s Big Idea.”

David says that social media exaggerates our worst qualities and that people can use that to polarize the public. To combat this, he suggests engaging in relationships on a personal level, since it’s “unlikely that people will behave so badly as if they were anonymous on the internet”. Studies show that people who just hang out on the Internet behave more aggressively than people who get involved in community groups where they seem to be friendlier.

Being a bully sometimes works, but it does create problems for the future in a company. David shows that there are many success stories of leaders who have the qualities necessary to be ‘honest but determined’. That’s a medium approach.

For instance:

Why Satya Nadella has been able to turn Microsoft back into a powerhouse, while Steve Ballmer has greatly reduced the company through his harsh and overly aggressive tactics.

How BioNTech leaders Ozlem Tureci and Ugur Sahin were able to move quickly and effectively to create a vaccine to fight the current pandemic and also successfully partner with corporate giants scaling their work to create a to have a real impact in protecting the well-being of the world.

How the Empire State Building was built in just under a year thanks to the honesty of Paul Starrett, the man who oversaw the construction of this iconic structure

Listen to the full interview and what you can do on The Small Business Radio Show.

Image: David Bodanis

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