Whatever the causes, the drop in civility is troubling. Pier Forni, creator of the Johns Hopkins University Civility Project, has found that “Acts of violence are often the result of an exchange of acts of rudeness that spiral out of control.”
It’s not about avoiding conflict when necessary or about simply “pretending to be nice.” The Johns Hopkins Civility Project suggests it’s about three things — respect, restraint and consideration. When we treat people with kindness and consideration, we show them that we value them as human beings, not just human doings. It’s what builds connection. But good relationships don’t just happen overnight. Trust and credibility need to be earned.
To boost civility in your workplace relationships:
- Keep the person in mind. Take time to get to know your co-workers. Few gifts are greater than feeling known and understood.
- Be respectful, even in disagreement – or particularly in disagreement! It’s not the amount of conflict or disagreement, but how it is handled.
- Edit yourself – avoid saying every critical thought when talking about sensitive issues.
- Be aware of your own “hot buttons” and defensiveness. Self- awareness allows you to anticipate and manage your reactions.
- Choose your issues wisely. Don’t argue simply for the sake of arguing. Stepping back and looking at the big picture gives a better perspective of the issues that really matter.
Don’t wait for someone to be nice to you. To quote Gandhi: be the change you want to see. One person can have a positive impact.