Social skills across the board

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It is a fact of life that people are born and brought up in a diverse range of circumstances. The social groups that we find ourselves in provide the context for the way we perceive and appreciate the world. There is no doubt that it is relatively fortunate to be born into privileged means, but life has ways of teaching us all about having to make an effort to get by, in various shapes and forms.

Reflecting recently about the experiences of folks of African and Caribbean heritage in Britain since the late 1940s, some colleagues and I came to a mutual agreement that issues of class can affect the lives and interactions of people from all races. Black people may have experienced overt racism in that era that is not comparable to what happens nowadays, but some of us had easier lives than the rest.

At the heart of the matter is the need for each of us to be willing to engage with fellow human beings on a person to person level, giving those we meet the chance to reveal who they really are.

Nowadays, the rhetoric expressed by many public figures (especially in the political arena) is too generalised in scope. Is it time for politicians to back to the drawing board, to reassess the terminology they use in communicating with voters?

What role does a spin doctor or marketing and publicity expert play in this process? When a word such as “authenticity” is bandied around as a badge of virtue, is this an excuse for those in the public eye to express ideas without considering the range of sensibilities of those they address?