As elections loom near, communication is key to office cohesion Published Sept. 27, 2016 By Staff Sgt. Clinton Cooper 36th Wing Equal Opportunity ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- As Airmen work alongside one another, it is inevitable that various controversial topics such as current events, politics and social issues will be included in conversations. As these topics are introduced, it is important to be professional and respectful of everyone’s opinion. Airmen have the right to their own personal thoughts and opinions, but must keep in mind the Air Force is full of personnel with various viewpoints due to the diversity of its members. Controversial topics often spark a strong emotional response that can vary greatly from individual to individual. Therefore, emotion has the potential to drive these types of conversations and it is easy for bias and prejudice to unknowingly cloud the facts. Unfortunately, differences of opinion and misunderstandings can lead to tension and resentment within our military community. It is imperative we become diligent in seeking to discover the facts and understand the difference between fact and opinion. We must also keep in mind not everyone has to agree with each other’s opinion. This becomes increasingly important when dealing with circumstances or topics of discussion that invoke emotion. However, discussion of current events can also provide an opportunity for Airmen to develop a well-rounded perspective and increase personal insight. Communication and understanding are powerful tools against adversity. An open mind and clarifying questions help ensure the discussion is being clearly relayed and understood. If Airmen are feeling barriers created within their work sections or any discriminatory tensions, the member has the option to communicate any uneasy feelings directly with the individual. Different socialization and personal backgrounds create diversity and provide different perspectives. Each military member can help build team comradery and strengthen unit cohesiveness, by educating and bringing awareness to those they work alongside. Open communication helps complete the mission. Military members do not stand alone. Always utilize the chain of command and let superiors know of any concerns or issues. Leaders should address concerns, help solve disputes and settle uneasy tensions. There are also several helping agencies that concerns can be brought to and addressed. These helping agencies include the Chaplain, Mental Health, Equal Opportunity and Military Family Life Counselors. The assimilation of American culture within the military is a powerful tool and aids in the success of the Air Force mission. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Treat our military family with dignity and respect. Drive out the darkness and don’t allow barriers to be created because of a difference of opinion.