Civility, What is it? Do You Practice it?

What is civility? defines it as:


Noun, plural civilities

  1. courtesy; politeness.
  2. a polite action or expression:
    an exchange of civilities
  3. archaic. civilization; culture; good breeding.

We all want to be treated with civility, but, are we practicing what we preach?

Personal Civility

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.


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6 thoughts on “Civility, What is it? Do You Practice it?”

  1. Hello, Tom,

    Excellent post! Your words and choice of videos were refreshing. I hope many, many people take your message to heart and start living by this choice today.

    Keep up the good work! Will be back for more.

    Kind regards,

    1. Greetings Susan!

      Thank you so much for visiting the site and for your comments regarding Civility, What is it? Do you Practice It?. Please share this post if you know of anyone that might be interested.
      There is just too much vitriol in the world today. It is one thing to disagree on principle, it is quite another thing to be enraged by the disagreement. It is really hard to make any progress on an issue when people are seething with anger. We have some very serious issues in our world. We have a lot of hard work to do. I will try to press ahead with a focus on civility.

      I look forward to your comments and discussion on future topics here. If I can ever be of any assistance, please let me know.

  2. Hello Tom,

    I enjoy both the videos and like their emphasis on being kind bring about kindness.
    I concur that civility is a choice, and definitely a top-down choice in business settings.

    Kind regards,
    p/s: I could not resist, so share your blog via FB 🙂

    1. Hello Cheng!
      Thank you very much for visiting The Civil Voice! I am very happy that you enjoyed the site. Being kind and polite is contagious! We should all try to spread it around.:)
      Thank you for sharing the site, and please feel free to do so anytime you like!
      If you should ever have any other comment or input on the topics here please let me know!

  3. Great thought provoking article!

    It seems to be that a lack of civility or empathy for others is more pronounced in city dwellers than in those who live in more rural environments. I’ve been to some pretty remote places in Africa where visitors of all kinds are treated with respect and hospitality, and the same applies to the country area of Scotland where I now live.

    The contrast with major cities where I’ve worked could hardly be greater – dog eat dog seems to be the name of the game – it particularly reveals itself in driving habits and road rage.

    And yet, the principles of morals like ‘do as you would be done by’, ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ and so on have been around many cultures for centuries, and is still taught by many parents to their kids today.

    Unfortunately, we live in an adversarial world, where disagreements too easily slip into conflict. This is not helped by politicians and other leaders, who most certainly do not lead by example. The name calling and back biting that went on during Scotland’s recent referendum was astonishing, and it was difficult to imagine how the people involved had risen to prominence.

    One would imagine that civility would be a natural extension of a so called advanced civilisation, but it seems that civility is strongest in so called more primitive cultures.

    Maybe the family unit is the key to restoring the values of politeness, consideration, empathy – as long as we pass these along, there’s hope, surely?

    Oh, and don’t vote for palookas like Trump!

    1. Hello Mike!
      Thank you very much for your visit to and for your comments regarding “Civility, What is it? Do You Practice it?”.

      I think you might be right about how the density of population leads to more intolerance and a lack of civility. It is likely due to the stress that living in such close proximity with so many others produces. I also think that when people have no concern for the potential to be ostracized due to their behavior, they are more likely to act poorly. That would be the risk/reward scenario. Perhaps your thought on civility being strongest in more primitive cultures could be because in primitive cultures people are much more dependant on each other.

      I really appreciate your comments Mike! And, I hope that you will come back and contribute to the discussion again.
      All the best to you sir,

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