The Civility Challenge – Engaging in Strong & Respectful Conversations

In my last blog post I asked the question “Is there a need for civility in social media?” Since my post I have become more aware of the lack of simple human courtesy … and its not just in social media. Once I started looking I saw it everywhere. Whether you are at a restaurant, business meeting, or a family reunion, it is inevitable that someone will complain, criticize or express a political opinion and, inevitably, someone loses their cool and you know the rest of the story.

The dictionary defines civility as “formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech.” While it is a struggle at times to see this demonstrated, I hope the acts of politeness and courtesy are not a thing of the past.

With today’s push for fast food, 24/7 news, instant messaging delivered straight to your smart device, and every news and online media source asking for an uninformed, uneducated opinion to a current event, is it possible we are becoming a society who is impatient and completely self-centered and self-absorbed?

Aside from the human decency perspective or the social responsibility of extending kindness and understanding to others, when we treat others with a lack of civility, we (or me being the person who is uncivil) ultimately lose. My behavior reinforces a professional brand that is perceived by others as a positive or negative brand. And because I want to be seen as someone who is polite, professional, and polished, I am highly aware of the need to extend respect and courtesy to others, even when it is a stretch to do so.

The intent of the Social Media Civility Challenge is personal. It is simply a set of guidelines to help me express my beliefs, engage in a dialogue in a way that is effective and respectful to others, and protects my professional brand, which is extremely important to me. It is about practicing civility and promoting respect! It is about being a strong leader!

The Civility Challenge

  1. I will not use social media (nor any other venue) to insult, demean, or attack others.
  2. I will exercise self-regulation; I have full control over my thoughts, my attitudes, my behaviors, and my posts.
  3. I will error on the side of caution knowing once my words are read they can never been taken back.
  4. I will be okay if I don’t post everything that goes through my mind.
  5. I will think twice and write once to ensure I communicate the right message and have no regrets over something I posted.
  6. I will treat people with unqualified respect, even when we don’t agree on an issue. They have a right to their opinion.
  7. I will honor and respect others’ differences and not mistreat them simply because we think differently on a single issue.
  8. I will focus on common ground as that will help to strengthen the relationship rather than magnify our differences and create a greater divide.
  9. I will focus on doing what is right versus trying to be right.
  10. I will agree to disagree … and still be kind.

Hopefully this blog post has sparked an idea or helped to resolve some questions or frustrations you’ve observed or experienced in your own interactions with others. Maybe the topic of this post has increased your awareness of the need to extend a little grace to others. Perhaps you realize if you want others to behave with more civility, that change must first begin in you.

I recently read a quote that said, “What this generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.” Will you join me in practicing civility and promoting respect for the sake of future generations? Will you join me on this journey to become a strong leader?

Personal coaching to improve civility in your sphere of influence …

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being extremely low and 10 being extremely high), how civil and respectful are the interpersonal relationships within your group (work or personal)?
  2. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being extremely low and 10 being extremely high), how would you like it to be? (Hopefully the score for question #2 is higher than the score for question #1.)
  3. Since you only have control over your own behavior or actions, list two to three things you could do differently today to promote more respectful behavior in your workplace.
  4. If you take action to become more respectful and civil in the workplace, what is the payoff for you?
  5. If you take action to become more respectful and civil in the workplace, what is the payoff for your team?

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