Our society seems to have given up on civility.
This worries me.
Because civility is much more than good manners. Civility is part of the glue that holds our society together. Civility is what allows a society made up of unique individuals to function as a cohesive whole. Without civility, teamwork crumbles, trust is lost, and everyone takes sides.
What do I mean by civility?
Civility is the act of showing regard for others by choosing to be kind and respectful, even when we disagree about a topic that means a lot to us. (Such as politics, religion, or gender issues.) Civility means choosing not to belittle, insult, or demean others—or their beliefs and opinions—no matter how much we disagree.
Why is it so important?
Incivility affects us in all areas of life including our workplace, our ministry and our home. Incivility hampers teamwork by hindering collaboration. (Who wants to share ideas when they are afraid of being belittled?) Incivility fractures trust. (Trust cannot thrive in an environment lacking in respect, kindness, or compassion.) Incivility begins the downward spiral that leads to bitterness, hatred, and factions. It is when we give ourselves permission to hate persons in a certain category that abuses such as slavery and genocide occur.
Will you join me in fighting incivility by making civility a value in your life?
How to be intentional about civility:
- Disagree with respect. Civility does not mean compromising your own beliefs, rather it means holding firm to them while at the same time deciding not degrade or demean others whose beliefs are different. Belittling and insulting are the bully’s way to victory. A civil person doesn’t need to cut others down in order to make themselves feel superior.
- Practice the Golden Rule. Remember that all men and women are equally valuable, therefore treat persons from any other religion/politics/cause the way you wish to be treated. If you wouldn’t say it about your beliefs/politics/cause, don’t say it about theirs either. An Example: Are you insulted by a meme mocking Your Candidate yet you find memes mocking The Other Candidate amusing? Shame on you! Take a stand now and refuse to promote incivility in any form.
- Seek common ground as a starting place. Refuse to fall prey to the common falsehood that “anyone not with us is against us” because issues are rarely that simple. Instead of starting from preconceptions and false assumptions, choose to give others the benefit of the doubt. Seek to understand another’s viewpoint rather than attacking it as wrong. Ask questions like “What brought you to that opinion?” or “I don’t really know much about that issue, can you explain why it’s important to you?”
Will you choose to be civil this week?
What challenges might you face in your workplace, ministry, or home that will make it difficult to remain civil? How do you plan to overcome them?