What is civility? Dictionary.com defines it as:
Noun, plural civilities
- courtesy; politeness.
- a polite action or expression:
an exchange of civilities
- archaic. civilization; culture; good breeding.
We all want to be treated with civility, but, are we practicing what we preach?
Personal civility refers to how an individual conducts themselves in their personal and professional interactions with others.
It seems simple doesn’t it? Just treat everyone with courtesy and respect. But somehow what seems so simple in theory can be much more difficult in practice. Take a look at this experiment.
My takeaway from this video is that we really have to look at ourselves first! How can we expect civility from others if we are not willing to be civil.
I will say that there have been times that I have conducted myself with less civility than I am happy to admit. Because I can admit this, perhaps I now have the opportunity to correct my behavior.
We must first look within ourselves, find the error of our ways, then work to correct it. This really applies to many areas of our lives. But, in today’s culture, it seems a significant percentage of people are not willing to do the introspection required to find their own faults.
Instead, they are content to continuously blame others for the situation or circumstances of their lives. How then, can they expect to have civility in their relationships and interactions with others?
I think we are all really turned off by this pervasive attitude that “It’s not my fault.” In some people I think it causes an immediate visceral reaction. A wall goes up, defenses are primed, and the potential for civility is lost.
Instead of civil discourse, now you have a confrontational experience. That neither party are going to enjoy.
We cannot complain that it costs too much to be civil, because it costs nothing. A kind word, a gesture, a smile, all these things are contagious and they don’t cost a thing.
Business or Corporate Civility
Business or corporate civility refers to how civility and the potential lack thereof impacts your company, employees, vendors, and customers.
Some topics to consider with regards to a civil approach in your business would be; safety standards, swearing, workplace violence, office politics, fraud, lying, disrespect for cultural differences, unprofessional conduct, poor customer service.
Failure to address issues of this nature in your business will certainly cost you time, money, human assets, integrity, and of course profit.
If you are a business owner, you should know that the tone of your company, civil or not is set by you! It starts at the top. How you conduct yourself, and the expectations you set for your employees, will determine the level of civility your customers, employees, vendors, etc., will experience when doing business with you.
Consider this example:
In the video above Bill Whittle tells us about a couple of recent experiences he had one with a police officer and one with a restaurant owner. The police officer responds favorably to Bill conducting himself with civility.
It is clear that the restaurant owner is very concerned about the quality of product and service that his customers receive at his establishment. The restaurant owner leads his organization with his mind on civility and accountability for himself and his staff.
Bill indicates that as a result of the positive environment created by the owner, the clientele of the business also conduct themselves with civility.
I guess being polite and respectful of others is as contagious as a smile.
We all should lead our groups, businesses, or families with an eye on civility. We should demand civility from ourselves, our relationships, and our leaders.
Teach your children to be civil and respectful in their interactions with others. Teach them firstly by example, and secondly by the expectation that they should conduct themselves that way.
We are all rewarded when we practice civil behavior by the pleasant interactions that come as a result. Make your world better starting right now. Make a personal commitment to be civil with everyone you interact with.
I encourage your comments and feedback regarding this post. Please share your personal experiences and perspectives on this topic below.