We Need Civility, Now More Than Ever!



We are living in times of right and wrong, black and white, left and right. There are far too many absolutes to my liking and it leaves us all with huge chasms between us.  Social media like Facebook and Twitter have given folks the ability to easily not take the time to think about what they say. And, there is so much fear in our current world that every dissenting comment is seen as a confrontation. So, to be civil with one another, it is going to take some change in habits, but well worth the effort  Civility brings about constructive collaboration and great success that moves the world forward. 

If you look at the definitions of civility, the words politeness and respect keep popping up. Sad but true, in 2016, according to an annual global poll by McKinsey & Co., 62 percent of employees were treated rudely at work at least once a month. Since the poll began in 1998, rude behavior continues to increase at an alarming rate. These behaviors show up as colleagues being dismissive, demeaning, and discounting to one another.

In business being polite shows up in meetings when you actually listen to what another person is saying, until the end of their thought, instead of interrupting. Frequently, you interrupt because you have stopped listening to the words coming at you and instead think about what you are going to say next. Another word for being polite is courteous. Whether two people are having a conversation or 20, being courteous means waiting your turn and not hogging the conversation. The upside is that you then have the opportunity to learn a new perspective, idea or strategy.

In our diverse world, respect for differences is a skill that enhances every part of business. Since it is a skill, it can be taught and improved. Open respectful discussions in an organization can assist in the growth of all stakeholders. Here are two ways you can improve civility in your organization.

  1. Talk about it. I have found that the root cause for habits and behaviors getting out of hand is because they were never talked about. Don’t assume people know better. This leads to complacency or worse. 
  2. Model the behavior you are looking for. You can’t very well expect the people in your organization to be civil if you’re not.

What happens if you don’t consider civility? Productivity decreases, and the frustration of those feeling dismissed or dis-connected shows up in the quality of their work, their loyalty to your organization, or worse, how they treat your customers and clients. Being civil is really the ability to look beyond yourself. Sometimes you make poor choices or get frustrated.  You probably don’t always use the best language, have enough patience, or honor respectability and acceptance. However, can you find a way to apologize and move forward more positively? What if each of us found a way to show some grace and kindness by allowing people to be imperfect humans that can change and become better forms of themselves?

What would happen if you were 10 percent kinder, politer and more respectful each day? Let’s find out!


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