You know things are tough when the founder of the ‘Civility Project’ calls it quits…
All you have to do is listen to a political debate or tune in to any talking head radio show or watch the competition unfold on the latest episode of a reality TV show or get stuck in traffic or a long line on Black Friday…Increasingly it feels as though no one cares how they treat others any more.
So, with that in mind, here are six ways for perfecting the art of being uncivil to others:
- Quickly go from discussing the substance of the disagreement to a personal attack on the person with whom you disagree. Deep down you know you’re wrong, so attack the messenger to make the other person feel small.
- Assume you know what other people think and believe and what their motivation is rather than asking them directly. And make sure you tell everyone that what you think the other person believes is cold, hard fact.
- Say things about other people behind their backs – or via social media – that you would never say to their faces. And make sure you do so when you’re angry and haven’t taken a break to think things through.
- Don’t carefully listen to what the other person has to say. Don’t read their posts or comments closely. Please, jump to immediate conclusions and make snide comments while proudly exclaiming your wholly objective rightness. And be sure to use poor grammar and lots of exclamation points for extra snark.
- When someone replies to you, be sure to ignore their response or talk over top of it. Re-frame, -but don’t change- your talking points believing the other person will just come around to your point of view.
- If you start to find you may have a point of agreement, make sure to disagree as quickly as you can just to be contrary.
Okay, so the above list is intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but I bet you’ve experienced the above tactics in some form or another at some point in your career.
There has to be a better way…and there is. Just take a look at the Nine Principles of Civility, as advised by the Oshkosh Civility Project, a group that seeks to build a stronger and more diverse community by actively sharing our ideas and opinions with others in thoughtful and considerate ways.
- Pay attention – Be aware of others and sensitive to the immediate context of actions
- Listen closely – Understand other points of view
- Be Inclusive – Welcome all; don’t exclude anyone
- Don’t Gossip – Remind others of the importance of this practice
- Show Respect – Honor others (Especially in Disagreement)
- Be Agreeable – Find opportunities to agree
- Apologize Sincerely – Repair damaged relationships
- Give constructive comments, suggestions and feedback – no personal attacks (focus on issues)
- Accept responsibility – don’t shift blame; share disagreements publicly
So, do you think there’s yet hope for a more civil society?
“Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people” ~Eleanor Roosevelt