When I was a consultant, my desk was cluttered with stacks of paper that were piled to the sky. I had an unwritten rule: What I did in my personal space was my business. But the rule wasn’t valid in common areas because it would infringe on other people. I apply that principle to other areas of my life. What you do in the comfort of your home is your business. But when you’re around others it’s important to be kind, considerate, and respectful. Unfortunately, not everyone lives by that rule. That’s why we lack decency these days. But I have a game plan to encourage greater civility.
Nowadays, people put their personal needs first, force their opinions on others, and shout down opposing viewpoints. There seems to be little interest in seeking the truth, encouraging constructive debate, or addressing common issues. Moreover, rather than winning a debate with a better argument, many resort to personal attacks.
Some folks who prescribe tolerance should take their own medicine.
There must be a better way…
How to Foster Civility
How do we improve common courtesy at home, at work, and within our communities? Here’s a game plan to encourage civility:
If you can’t be positive, keep it to yourself. If others want to rant or be mean-spirited on social media, let them. Never lower your personal standards. Never!
Surrounding yourself with “yes” people is like talking to yourself. Search for the truth rather than subscribing to information that supports your existing beliefs.
One or many believers don’t determine the truth or untruth. Think for yourself. Some folks are dishonest and self-serving — and may even have a second agenda. While you may think that following the crowd is a safe bet, they may be leading you right off a cliff.
You are what you eat and the information you digest. Your mind is like a computer. Allowing yourself to become infected with misinformation is as damaging as a computer being infiltrated by a virus. For information to be useful, it must be factual, truthful, and error-free. Furthermore, it must be comprehensive, objective, relevant, timely, functional, and credible.
Be objective. Encourage diverse viewpoints. See issues from all angles. Compare and contrast without bias.
Encourage debate. Challenge your opinions. You don’t win a debate by suppressing discussion; you win it with a better argument.
Judge ideas, not people. Discuss differences openly, honestly, and respectfully. Focus on the message, not the messenger.
Remember, an opinion is not a fact. As former Senator Patrick Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
There is a difference between hearing and listening. Some people don’t communicate. They just take turns talking.
Try to find the merit in each other’s arguments. See their side of an argument before expecting them to see yours.
Search for common ground. Identify areas of common agreement and mutual interest.
Raised voices are rarely heard. Some folks think their position makes them all-knowing and all-important — and that gives them the right to bark orders at others. People don’t resist change; they resist being forced to change.
Never pull rank. Real power isn’t the result of controlling people; it’s created by empowering folks and forging commitment.
Take the shoe-on-the-other-foot test. Put yourself in each other’s shoes to ensure that you’re being fair and equitable. Ask yourself whether you’d be happy to trade places with them. Remember, we can’t expect others to abandon their values any more than we would forsake our own.
Park your ego at the door. What is right is a lot more important than who is right.
A Plea for Common Decency
Raise your game. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. Be the person who exhibits dignity and grace. Be the person who’s regarded as honest, fair, and objective. Be the person who others look up to and the person who makes you proud. It doesn’t matter what others say. It doesn’t matter what others do. While civility may be expendable to some people, make it known that it’s essential to you.
Check out Frank’s latest book, The Path to a Meaningful Life.
How Do You Feel About This Game Plan?
Please leave a comment and tell us what you think or share it with someone who can benefit from the information.
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