In times like these, civility is kind of a lost art form. People talk and talk, but are they listening and quite frankly, really hearing what others are saying? Or, are they just waiting for someone else to take a breath so that they can talk again?
Some ways to practice civility are:
Pay attention – be observant and watch people’s body language as you converse with them. Watch your own as well. If you are taking in their conversation with your arms folded and your body rearing back from them, they will sense that you are not open to what it is they are trying to discuss with you.
Be inclusive – welcome new people and new ideas from others especially if they are different than you. That’s when the best collaborations happen. It gives you perspective when you can look at things from various points of view and definitely makes for richer dialogue.
Don’t gossip – this is hard for everyone. But, if its not your story to tell, then don’t. Even if you feel you might be helping a situation, talking behind someone’s back is never okay. Just go on about your business.
Show respect – in the past two years, my life has changed drastically, and I have a lot of new people in my sphere of influence. Some have dementia and although they tell me the same story every time I see them, I still listen intently as though this is the first time I am hearing it. There is no need to disrespect anyone. Everyone has something to offer.
Seek common ground – everyone can find something in common with someone else. You just have to converse long enough to find those commonalities. There’s a tool I use in my creative sessions where a group of people all works on a flip chart with a flower drawn on it. Each person gets one of the petals to express themselves with words, pictures, etc. When that’s completed, then they have to discuss what they all have in common, and those commonalities get written down in the center of the flower. Once the conversation gets started, it is amazing what they will find out they share!
Repair damaged relationships – The cliché of “life’s too short” rings true with this one. Stress and anxiety from broken relationships is just not worth it. Say you are sorry and be sincere.
Use constructive language – a lot of times, people have language that just triggers them. Words can hurt, so choose yours carefully. Instead of telling someone that the idea they just pitched is the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard, ask them to tell you more about it. Chances are they are just not explaining it well. Be open and ask questions.
Take responsibility – if you screwed something up, then man or woman up and own it. Don’t try to project the blame onto someone else. People will respect you more for your honesty.
Civility is all about communication and behavior that respects the integrity and dignity of other individuals. Go practice!
“Civility doesn’t weaken a message. It helps others hear it.”
-- Kate Nasser
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