This post originally shared on the Green Bay Press Gazette
The sixth tool of civility is “Be Agreeable.” By definition agreeable means ready or willing to agree, willing to do or allow something.
I think the key word for agreeability to be a tool of civility is READY. Our attitude and mindset is that our approach for every communication that we have with another person is that our manner will be agreeable to that person. We will be pleasant, amiable, likeable, sympathetic, warm, considerate, kind and gracious. In our readiness we are listening to where we do agree, acknowledging that agreement and where we may cooperate and be harmonious.
In order to have this readiness I think it is helpful to look at the Five Factor Model that was initially developed in 1961 but not really accepted until the 1980s. Agreement is one of the five personality traits that are used to describe human personality. Awareness of all five traits can help us to prepare our approach to being agreeable.
• The first trait is openness to experience, which means one is inventive and curious. One has an appreciation for and an interest in a whole range of things — art, beauty, science, people’s feelings, etc. Variety is a preference. One wants to try new things. Also one is open to emotions.
• The next trait is conscientiousness with one being efficient and organized. One is dependable. One shows self-discipline by controlling, regulating and directing their impulses. One prefers planned behavior.
• Extroversion is the third trait or outgoing and energetic. One not only is engaged with the external world, but enjoys interacting with people. One has a wide range of activities. Of course one is talkative.
• The fourth trait is our agreeableness. Here the tendency is to be friendly, compassionate and cooperative with others rather than antagonistic and suspicious. One has a both a trusting and helpful nature. Finally, one has an optimistic view of human nature.
• The last trait is neuroticism and one is sensitive and nervous. One feels the negative emotions easily which makes one vulnerable to stress. One sees normal situations as threatening, is pessimistic, and often in a bad mood. This mind set can affect clear thinking and decision making. Obviously one who is low on the neuroticism scale would be less likely to get upset easily and less emotionally reactive. One could stay calm, be emotionally stable and have few negative feelings.
These traits of being open, conscientious, extroverted and less neurotic can help us to be more agreeable in our communication with others. We can be open to their points of view. We can be patient and see the benefits of hearing another’s ideas. We can find new excitement in trying new things. Finally we are not frightened by someone else’s thoughts.
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