A Return to Civility


I have the opportunity to participate on the Relevant Radio show, “Morning Air” (www.relevantradio.com), the first Monday every month at 7:30AM CST. I focus my comments on values-based leadership from a spiritual perspective.

Last week we addressed “How Can We Improve Civility?” I admit that the first thing I did was look up the definition of “civility.” According to the Oxford Dictionary, “civility is formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech….courtesy, politeness, good manners”. Given our current political environment, I quickly understood why this was a relevant topic 😉

Civility is in significant decline. It seems that few people are listening to one another. They are quick to state their opinions and often have no interest in the views of others. The best way to improve civility, I believe, is what I call the second principle of values-based leadership: BALANCE. Maintaining a BALANCED PERSPECTIVE is key to maintaining civility. That is, taking the time to understand ALL perspectives, or to quote St. Francis, “Take the time to understand before you are understood.”

A great summary of how to return to more CIVILITY is summarized in an article written by Bishop David Zubik, “9 Rules To Promote Civility

His article is valuable for anyone who believes in the “golden rule” and wants to treat one another more respectfully. Bishop Zubik states, “The cultural headwinds against civility are strong. The screaming heads on cable news, the fortunes poured into electioneering, and the “Wild West” of social media make it hard to engage in reasonable dialogue……civility demonstrates strength—not weakness—of thought, voice and conviction.”

Here are Bishop’s Zubik’s “Nine Rules for Civility”:

  1. In a healthy, civil dialogue, we listen to one another. Listening is more than hearing. It requires time and energy to appreciate where a person or group comes from, what they believe and why they believe it. Authentic, empathetic listening takes to heart the feelings of another’s heart and builds bridges among people who differ on important issues.
    2. Civil conversation presumes that we are each working for the common good. We nearly always have areas of agreement and disagreement. Instead of zeroing in on points of divergence, we should first acknowledge where we can stand together.
    3. Any civil public discussion recognizes the validity of contending groups in society. My goal cannot be to shut down another voice. Democracy and freedom guarantee differences of convictions and conclusions.
    4. Civility shows respect for the person with whom I differ.
    5. Civility works for the inclusion of all members of society and is especially sensitive to minorities and marginalized persons.
    6. Civility distinguishes between facts and opinions. Let facts speak for themselves where possible. (The quote from the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan is more pertinent today than ever: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”)
    7. Disagreements about values are difficult, and we cannot and should not avoid passionate discussion. We can critique an idea without lambasting a person.
    8. We should not assume or impugn motives.
    9. We must be willing to be self-critical. Honest dialogue helps us to examine the roots of our own positions, leading us to clarify—and sometimes modify—our convictions.

One final thought on CIVILITY: The next time someone says something that you disagree with, try not to be frustrated or upset or say, “I don’t understand where you are coming from.” Why? Because if you take the time to listen, you will understand. Then you can decide whether you agree or disagree.

I am always interested in your opinions and perspectives.

Have a great rest of the week!!

One comment

Join the discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.