BY SUSAN MCANINCH
In Search of Civility Question - While at work I overheard co-workers telling what I consider offensive jokes and then laughing loudly over the punch lines. They were not clever or cute; they were highly inappropriate and in many cases contained racial slurs. I felt this was especially wrong considering a large part of our work force is made up of that minority. I wasn’t actually in the conversation. Don’t I have a right to speak up?
I appreciate your question and your implicit quandary. There is a big difference between minding your own business and minding someone else’s business. But I can say without reservation that all advocates of civility would support your right to speak up in the face of offensive and racist jokes in the workplace. In fact, one of the nine tools of civility reminds us that speaking up is not only a right, but also is a vital and necessary responsibility. Each of us must act if we want to maintain or reclaim civility in the workplace. Gandhi said it right: “We must be the change we want to see in the world.”
Figuring out how and when to respond when a co-worker makes a racist comment or joke is surprisingly difficult. One size does not fit all, because the context of each situation influences how best to proceed. In the situation you describe, there is something to be said for staying silent in the moment, then assessing and thinking about a strategy that can produce the most effective response. Heated emotions combined with inadequate forethought often produce the least useful responses. On the other hand, a racist joke can be so blatant that we react immediately—almost involuntarily—out of the need to maintain our own self-respect, as well as to stop the behavior.
In general, the first thing you want to do when confronted with an offensive comment or joke is to ask yourself just why you are offended. Do you care about this co-worker group or did you already have a problem with them? Does the joke-telling reflect a covert or even overt culture of racism in the workplace? Did this group cross an ethical line for you? Next, ask yourself what you can and can’t accomplish by speaking up. Are you the right person to speak up? Should you enlist support from other co-workers? Do you want to change attitudes, or do you just want the behavior to stop? In some cases, depending on the context, it is enough to shift the focus simply by changing the subject.
I would not avoid speaking up even when there is concern about whether a joke is defined as humor or as racism. Perceptions and attempts at humor vary widely, but yours is the one that counts here. Moreover, you are the one with the valid argument on your side. In the workplace, joking about race, sex, age, ethnicity, religion and any other equal employment opportunity category is not appropriate. There are moral, ethical, policy, and legal standards and laws that support that position. A person’s personal right to express himself has limits in the workplace.
You do want to be careful about protecting your reputation and your workplace relationships—and your safety. Again, depending on the context and the prevailing office culture, you must weigh the risks of being labeled as the office killjoy. As you proceed with caution, I suggest that you seek out a member of the offending group who seems to be the most reasonable and approachable person. Extend an invitation for coffee and start by expressing your concerns about the incident you witnessed. Your goal is to demonstrate that the joke (not necessarily the person) is racist. The best way to do that is to ask what was funny. There is no better way to deflate a joke than to ask a person to explain it. The person won’t be able to explain why the joke is funny without revealing a racial stereotype, which you can then question. If you have addressed your co-worker(s) directly, but nothing has changed, you may decide to go up the chain of command. Supervisors have authority and are obliged to investigate incidents or complaints of racial harassment. (If the supervisor is the problem—that would be the subject of a whole other column!)
Thank you for asking an important question. I hope you feel empowered to speak up in support of civility in your workplace. Good luck.
Susan McAninch is a retired social worker and psychotherapist.
“I don’t think you’ve heard a word I said.”
Here is another familiar refrain you get when you are not listening: “You just don’t understand.”
Most of us consider listening a fundamental tool in healthy relationships, meaningful communication and civil discourse. And not listening leads to much of the misunderstanding and conflict we have in our lives and in our world.
At its finest, listening is about understanding in a way that the other person feels heard. We listen to understand.
Given that listening is such a universal and basic communication tool, why do so many of us blow it, either by our own admission or by the way others respond to us.
For starters, listening is a learned skill, and effective listening is sometimes counterintuitive. For example, it is normal and healthy to be assertive about getting our own needs met, but it is a death knell for effective listening when we chronically interrupt others in order to focus on ourselves and our own needs.
Sometimes interrupting others is nothing more than misplaced enthusiasm, but other times, it represents a power grab, competitiveness, and a need to exert control. Either way, the message is that you are more interested in listening to yourself than to the other person.
Do you want to master the art of listening? Begin by making an active decision to make listening your goal. Make a conscious effort to listen with no other intention than listening.
Create an environment that is conducive to listening. Sit down. Eliminate distractions by turning off your phone, your computer, your TV. Ensure privacy. Find a space where you will not be interrupted by others.
Stop talking. Learn to embrace silence, your own and the speaker’s. Do not rush to fill a silence. Catch yourself when you interrupt; apologize.
Stay focused, avoiding the temptation to prepare mentally for your immediate reply, such as a brilliant pearl of wisdom, a fix, or advice.
Notice body language and tone of voice, yours and the speaker’s. Nonverbal communication, both ways, is just as important as words.
Do give visual and oral encouragement that show you are listening. Lean in slightly; make some eye contact (not constant eye contact, which is uncomfortable for all); nod your head. Periodically, use words such as “yes,” “mmm,” “uh-huh.”
Check for understanding when it feels appropriate, by repeating back to the person what you hear him saying. You want to be sure that you what you hear matches what he means to say.
When listening evolves into two-way communication, be careful about making judgments or giving advice. There is no need to rush to agree or disagree. Use open-ended questions rather than drawing conclusions.
Helping the speaker achieve a higher level of clarity for himself is the goal of questions.
Not every verbal exchange requires the same level of listening concentration. But every act of listening deserves the expression of your best self.
Have you witnessed a Random Act of Civility? Let us know about it at email@example.com Susan McAninch
Retired Clinical Social Worker and Psychotherapist
If you are in the market for a new year’s resolution you can actually keep, choose civility. It is not measured in pounds or BMI; nor does it require a membership fee or expensive special equipment. Choosing civility is a low cost, high reward resolution that is guaranteed to enhance and improve the quality of your life. And isn’t that what resolutions are all about—self-improvement?
Perhaps you already know and support the work of the Door County Civility Project (doorcountycivilityproject.org and Facebook and Twitter). Perhaps you are familiar with the nine tools of civility (see box). And perhaps you recognize some less-than-civil habits in yourself that you would like to change this year. For example, you may decide that it is in your best interest, not to mention the people you live and work with, to be a more agreeable person than you currently are. But how do you make a lasting change—one that sticks?
Seeing the value in change and wanting to change a bad habit are clearly the first critical steps towards positive change. But we all know that, by itself, wanting to change does not make it happen. To the best of my knowledge, the only way to make a lasting change is to put in the necessary time, attention, and energy. While there is not much solid scientific evidence about how long it may take, one study quoted in a recent Harvard newsletter found that it took anywhere from 18 to 254 days before an action became automatic—that is, became a habit. The average was 66 days.
So, start achieving your lasting resolution by accepting the reality that gradual work towards change significantly improves your odds of success. Rushing change rarely works. Sorry, no overnight success stories here. Think months, not days or weeks.
Next, dream big. For example, picture yourself as the agreeable person you want to be; more generous, more affectionate, more cooperative with others. This big goal sets the target. Take some time to figure out why you have not made this change before. What was in it for you to be disagreeable? What you want is to tip the scales of the plusses and minuses enough that making this change is better than standing still.
Now, create a plan for yourself by thinking small, even tiny. Break that big goal into small goals, starting with the most easily accomplished change. For example, you could begin with an easy but effective goal of saying, “yes, and” instead of saying, “yes, but.” Don’t sabotage yourself by going for the hardest change first. As you start to practice your new strategies, you will find that you don’t feel quite right if you stop. That is a great incentive to keep going. You can gradually up the ante to changes that are more difficult. This way, you keep nudging your way towards the big goal. Make yourself accountable by signing the Civility Pledge (doorcountycivilityproject.com). Make a promise to someone whom you don’t want to let down.
Change is hard, or we wouldn’t need resolutions. But once your new habit takes root, you can rest assured that it will be as hard to break as the old habit. Happy New Year!
The Nine Tools of Civility:
Do not gossip
Give constructive criticism
BY: SUSAN MCANINCH
Another cornerstone of civility is at all times having an attitude of kindness. Words that are used to define kind are “of a sympathetic nature, loving, of a forbearing nature, showing a gentle considerate nature, and interest in another’s welfare.” While the “American Way” has us focused on striving to do and become whatever we want to be, to seemingly be successful no manner what you have to do, this truly can be more easily accomplished with the attitude of kindness. Just remember the Mary Poppins’ words “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”
I would like to share just one example of the effects of kindness. I have just returned from the annual Convention of the Wisconsin State Chapter P.E.O. Over the last year our president had chosen the theme “Making a Difference, One Star at a Time.” Her premise was that each member of P.E.O. can make a difference in the organization by being kind in some way to another member. She had asked each chapter to ask each of their members to record over the year each time that they had been kind to a sister. These lists would be turned into the chapter President who would send them on to her.
As my chapter President I asked and reminded my chapter to do so, I did not receive any written lists. I know it is hard to list good things that you do. I did observe many facts of kindness throughout the year. Many of our members over this past year experienced a variety of serious health issues. One member would let the rest know and cards, food, and phone calls would be made to cheer and help. For those who can no longer drive, a member would arrange to pick her up to get to a meeting as well as other activities. If someone was unable to complete a task that they had agreed to, another would complete it for her. Thanks yous are always given. One member was encouraged to speak up for herself and did so beautifully. Responsibilities for the running of our chapter were accepted graciously. Issues with several viewpoints were resolved in a most civil manner. My recording secretary was always giving me that reminder of what needed to be done in a given month. We had an outstanding Christmas party of foods made by our social committee. I think you get the picture.
At Convention our President presented a summary of the lists that she did get. All these acts of kindness were occurring in chapters all over our state. She was letting us know that one person being kind just multiplies and multiplies. Our entire P.E. O. organization accomplished so much more with one act at a time. She had a marvelous side story that I want to share as I think that it says it all.
At a grocery store in our state, the manager in addressing the entire staff asked that each staff member reach out a little more with kindness. A young man who was a bagger, an individual with special needs, especially took this to heart. He wanted to do something, but he was not sure there really was anything that he could do. His family in their own act of kindness gave him encouragement. He decided that he wanted to give each person a thought for the day. Each day after work he would work on his message. One completed his family would type them on the computer and have copies for him to take the next day. Several weeks later, the manager noticed that his line was almost as long as the length of the store. He went to help people to other lines. None wanted to move. They wanted to stay in that line to get his message. At another time one customer told the manager that she used to shop one a week, but now she comes each day for that message.
Be kind to each other and so much more positives will happen.
Orlaine I. Gabert
Perhaps a third cornerstone is humility. The word can be defined as self-restraint from excessive vanity and this is seen as a virtue, having a clear perspective and respect for one’s place in context, and a modest view of one’s own importance.
Humility seems to have a heavy religious connection and I found it very interesting to see how it is seen by a variety of religions of the world. A Jewish Rabbi Jonathon Sachs says that “humility is an appreciation of one’s self, talents, skills, and virtues as well as effacing oneself to something higher.” To Christian C.S. Lewis is not thinking less of oneself, but thinking of yourself less. He also says that pride leads to every vice and humility is the opposite of pride. For the Christian Bible Reference Set the Bible states that humility is a quality of being courteously respectful of others which allows us to go more than halfway to meet the needs and demands of others. Humility does not deny our own work but rather affirms the inherent worth of all persons. For Islam it is surrender to God. In Buddhism the natural aim is enlightenment. As a quality to be developed, it is deeply connected with the practice of Four Abods: love-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy and equanimity. Confucius say humility is the solid foundation of all virtues. One needs to be humble, modest, and unpretentious.
Perhaps in our western world we have tended to not look at these more complete definitions of the word. Rather we have focused on thinking lesser and lower of ourselves and that others are more than who we are. Consequently we are uncomfortable with the word to the point of even wondering if it really is a character trait that we want for ourselves. Truly, we need to acknowledge that we, too, are human and have a variety of skills, abilities, and strengths just like the other humans. Let’s not put one above the other, but me and others in tandem.
Let’s try to put that into practice. In general you would try to address another’s live and thoughts before yours; but certainly when you are in crisis, you will ask if your needs can be addressed. In almost all situations you need to avoid bragging, boasting and valuing your opinion above others. You will treat each person as someone of value despite their societal position, profession, age, race, or economic status, etc. As to treating yourself, you need to value yourself, but do not spoil yourself. It is helpful to avoid unhealthy and superficial behavior. Remember since we have lived in our own thoughts and beliefs, we need to try to look at any situation from other angles.
Being humble affects your life in a number of ways which will help us to be and remain civil. First one can handle difficult situations with a sense of peace, responding rather than reacting. You are able to see others more clearly. Therefore you give, but in return you will receive. It is a wonderful networking tool as others will be comfortable with you and seek you out. You will listen more and think before you speak. You will be seen as trustworthy. Others will be loyal to you. Additional benefits are peace, wisdom, healthy relationships, and respect.
Just think what our world can accomplish if we are always focused on the principle of humility, we are equal in this world. Together we will forever strive and improve our lives. Apart we will fall backwards or miss so many opportunities.
Orlaine I. Gabert
I recently attended the Golden Heart Volunteer Celebration for the first time. Stone Harbor Conference Center was filled to capacity with the nominees, those that named them, many volunteers of many organizations, and some of the agencies that benefit from these wonderful individuals who give of their time to Door County. As I looked over the list of nominees, I found myself connecting all these volunteers with civility. The evening’s theme was “Be a Shining Star”. Each of these volunteers was spreading civility all over our community by helping in some way to make life better for us all.
I truly believe that volunteering can help you to become more civil. It gives you the opportunity to use many of the civility tools that you have learned. First and foremost it is expanding your inclusiveness. You are entering someone else’s domain and are being asked to accept how it operates and do what is asked of you. One might say that you are allowing yourself to walk in another’s shoes. No other experience can be so eye opening. You will be so much more capable to see and understand the complexities of our world.
In order to do the job that you are asked to do, you need to pay close attention and listen carefully. You will be doing necessary tasks for the agency which allows the agency staff to direct their attention to their mission. You need to quickly grasp what is needed and then do it proficiently. This is done in an agreeable manner. While there are more than one way to do a task. You need to do as you are asked to do. Often that may lead you to increase your task list and further help.
Still you are in a way a guest and showing respect for being at someone else’s space will make both of you feel comfortable with each other. Respect begets respect. Your time there will be thanked graciously and you will always be honored by all agency personnel. Confidentiality is crucial. At any time you may hear or see something that you should not have. You must remain silent.
Lastly, you have either asked or accepted the volunteer position. You need to be responsibility. Arrive on time, do your job, and leave when your time is done.
Just think of the power of repeating these behaviors. As a bridge player at each of the duplicate games that I play, I want to place. Consequently I play there as often as I can, I read the bridge journal every month, I talk to my partner about mistakes that we made and how to improve, I teach so I know how to bid, play, and defend. Others of you may golf, play tennis, draw, play and instrument, knit, work with wood, etc. You practice.
Do you realize that the entire community is being helped to be civil, simply by your example. Experiencing someone using civility tools has an emotion effect on the other person. They feel heard which goes to feeling. They feel that they count; their actions, their career choice, do make a difference. This uplifting they will carry with them as they go on in their day. No matter how long these good feelings last, hours, days, each of their interactions will model some of the tools that you demonstrated. Guess what? The next persons that they encounter will experience that same good will. Then the next time you return to your volunteer site, the same uplifting will occur. Civility is spreading.
Secondly, by your good works our community is easing someone’s problem, giving them some bit of peace. The Golden Heart Volunteer Celebration had 36 nominees in 6 categories. I was in awe at all these individuals had done. I further realized that these were a small number of volunteers that make up the volunteers in Door County. All of them were winners and I thank each one. All these good acts provide the atmosphere for a civil community.
A week later I attended the Door County Civility Project Celebration. We have been in existence for three years. We so fortunate to have Former LT. Governor Barbara Lawton speak. While she had much to say in a short period of time, one word I came away with was generosity. Each of us needs to come to people with an attitude of generosity. How fitting to volunteering.
Please volunteer now, often.
Orlaine I. Gabert
For over a year now we have heard almost daily from individuals who wanted our vote to be president. While the slate seems near to be decided, we also have many other offices to consider when we go to the polls in November. Each of us can choose to be a civil voter by taking actions that will insure that we are making our best choices as a responsible citizen our city, county, state, and nation.
The League of Women Voters has some wonderful suggestions to help us to prepare. First we need to decide what we are looking for in a candidate which fall into two areas- their position on issues and leadership. Before we look at their stands on issues, we need to determine our own stands and it would probably help to write them down. Then we can listen to what they are saying or not saying about the issue. Next we have to identify what the qualities that we see as most important in a leader such as intelligence, honesty, experience, civility just to name a few.
Secondly, we need to find out about the candidates and gather materials. You become a researcher. While the news through newspapers, television, magazines, and, campaign materials can give you some information, you have to remember that there may be bias included by the writer or owner of the business. Certainly the internet can be a source of factual information, voting records, work experience, family, and education. Candidate often have an email or a website where you may ask questions. Again you may want to record some facts.
Now you to need to compare your thoughts on the issues that are not only important to you, but those that are important to your community, state, or country. Are the issues that concern you, the same as the candidates? On issues has there been clear declarations and what would be done to address the issue? What evidence do you see of inclusiveness? Review the party platforms of all the candidate’s as they address many of the current issues. Finally you can get the voting records if appropriate on the same or related issues. With all this information you can identify the issues to which there is agreement, some agreement, an openness to your view, very little agreement, or no agreement.
Leadership is often much harder to discern. Certainly many have been leaders in business or other political arenas where you can find opinions of their leadership. The action campaign and its operation can give you some clues. Also take a look at all the campaign materials and the speeches to see what is the emphasis- issues or image and how accurate? How is dissension handled on the campaign from both the audience and journalist? Can you give a credibility percentage?
Next you need to sort through the candidate’s campaign techniques. Each has been trying to get your vote. Some of those strategies may have used some form of distortion such as name calling, appeals to prejudice, rumor mongering, guilt by association, passing the blame, promising the sky, evading. None of these tactics deal with the issues and may illustrate aspects of leadership. Again record what you have learned.
Now you are ready to select your candidates by asking these final questions.
Orlaine I. Gabert
For several weeks now and at least for the rest of the month we will be bombarded by TV commercials and newspaper advertisements with items for giving. Their messages seems to be that you can give more for less, these are items that others will want, you must not disappoint, and you have to hurry because you do not want to miss getting these items. Suddenly giving can seem overwhelming.
I thought it would be appropriate to talk about giving and receiving. What is giving really? When I have talked about giving I start by saying that “giving is free”. I usually get a strange look of not understanding. Then I try to further explain. The act of giving is one person simply giving to someone else. There are so many reasons that one would want to give. A few I would suggest are that you would like to help someone, you especially like a person, you have appreciated something that they have done, you know that the person needs a little emotional lift, you want to give a person some encouragement, or you strongly believe in giving. Next you decide the kind of gift that you are want to make. Many gifts are items, something that you bought or something that you made. Some gifts are using your skills and talents for someone else. Others are giving some of your time to a person. Many are a few kind words and a gentle touch. Then you make your gift.
But the most important part of giving is your attitude. With true giving, you do not expect anything back from the person. This is a selfless act. You simply wanted the person to have your gift. Unfortunately many do not understand this necessary attitude of giving. They really have a hidden agenda. They give for their own benefit and want the person to give back something they want from the person. I would call this interaction with another person a business transaction, a contract, or barter. Usually these agreements are carried on with both individuals knowledge not just one.
As a receiver your attitude is equally important. More often than not the receiver is caught unaware. Suddenly someone gives something to you. Of course you are surprised and do not know what to do or say. You may feel undeserving, embarrassed because of a need, obligated to now give back to the person, or even anger. You may want to try to get out of this situation by finding some way to say no. But if you pause and remember that a gift is free, you can accept the gift graciously. This person thought enough of you that they wanted to something kind. You are special. They are special. It would be rude to deny that person’s kindness. A simple “Thank You” is all that is needed. Treasure each gift that you receive.
Give often and freely and receive with gratitude. You are setting an example. In doing so you will further increase civility in our community. The receivers of your giving will give to others, they to others and so on. With these attitudes, I am sure that this not only holiday season will be especially enjoyable for you all, but so will the rest of your life.
Happy Holidays and see you in the New Year.
Orlaine I. Gabert
The ninth tool is take responsibility, words that we have heard all of our lives. Two definitions I found on the internet were “ a duty or obligation to satisfactory perform or complete a task that one must fulfill and which has a consequent penalty for failure” or “owning your ability and power to create, choose and attract.” As we consider the full application of each of these definitions, there can be very different results in how each of us addresses responsibility in our lives.
Let’s look at the first definition. As soon as each of us begins to understand words, we are told to be or take responsibility. We are told that we are big girls or boys and can feed ourselves, use the toilet, dress, etc. We feel proud and want to do more on our own. Through childhood and early adolescence we continue to add to what we can do, but at some point we begin to question whether we want to add to our list what others want us or we find that we cannot do what is being asked. We will refuse to do something or not do it correctly, and we will have adults filling us with the dreadful consequences of our lack of responsibility.
In both instances we feel guilt. Somehow we have to get rid of this feeling. A way to do that is to blame, to find fault. We may blame ourselves, we decide that there is something wrong with us. This belief will only lead to us feeling that there is more and more wrong with us. This, of course, can lead to a whole array of negative consequences. On the other hand we may want to get rid of this negative feeling. We blame someone or something else. We are hoping to not suffer the consequences of not being responsible. Here too we will have negative results.
The fault in this definition is that the high expectation that we are able to accept any responsibility is unrealistic. While we know that all humans are imperfect, with responsibility, perfection is asked and expected. No one can ever meet the standard which results is negative behavior or communication with others.
Now the second definition seems to begin with the premise that each of us is unique and has a variety of talents, skills and abilities. Of course our introduction to responsibility is much the same. Our parents begin to let us take care of our basic needs as we are capable of handling and we want to do more. Then along with all these basic skills we are encouraged to develop our own special skills. In discovering our own uniqueness, we begin to understand our own personal power. We can take responsibility to act in the world.
There is not the same penalty luring in front of us if we do not take responsibility in some areas or having difficulties in a responsible situation. Yes, we will feel some initial guilt in these situations and may consider blaming, quitting, justifying, or denial, but we can more comfortably respond in a responsible manner. We know ourselves and what we can and cannot do and can face ourselves. With our dignity in tact we can admit that this is not an area of our ability, we did not accept this task, or we realize that we did not handle this situation as well as needed. We can learn, correct and improve.
With this definition we are ready and able to take responsibility for communicating civilly. First our humanness is universal. We all are imperfect. This eliminates the fear of appearing less equal than the other. We can admit our lack of an ability and expect to be understood for acknowledging who we are. Secondly, we have had our lifetime of experiencing more civil communication as we have been helped to learn our abilities and power to choose. Lastly, we know that we can continue to learn and practice civil discourse. We can take the responsibility to use the other eight tools whenever we communicate with someone.
Orlaine I. Gabert
Just as we need to regularly make sure that your tools and equipment are in good condition, we need to care for our civility tools. Consequently we need to find ways to direct our bias back to a civil level of communication. Here are a few steps I am suggesting to help us eliminate our own bias and perhaps that of others.
The absolute first step is to admit to ourselves that we do have some biases that needing cleaning up. Along with that we may need to take a look at all our strong feelings to assess whether they too may be getting out of hand. These biases and strong feelings all need to be written down. It is clearly important that we address each of them until they are no longer interfering with our civility.
Secondly we need to go through a process of cleaning up the corrosion of each of our biases. Here you need to consider how your best learn. Some like to hit the hardest first, your strongest and most disruptive bias, because as you proceed the rest becomes easier and easier. Others like to build on starting with the easiest, a relative strong opinion, and work up to the hardest.
Since bias blocks your ability to be inclusive, I believe this is where you are best able to be successful. Now you write the bias that you chose to work on first and write it down on a separate piece of paper. Next you write down what you know to be other opinions. This may be so difficult that you can only come up with one statement. Further research is required. There are multiple resources to read or view where you need to try to keep your mind focused on understanding this viewpoint. An example from our past is the issue of slavery. You can read about how the south depending on slavery for its economy as well as its lifestyle. Hopefully this research will lead you to an expanded viewpoint: another individual had a different life experience and viewpoint on the issue. Inclusiveness has been returned to you.
A further step is to engage in a conversation or more with someone who has a different view point and let them speak. Listen to every word they are saying. Try to see their thinking. You have to remain quiet as you want to hear it all, you want to allow yourself to your best ability for a moment to embrace these thoughts. The first time you try you may find it impossible to listen. Then quietly let the person know that you are having difficulty listening and need to end this conversation now. It is important to repeat these attempts until you can listen. Hearing an opinion is not wanting you to change yours, but rather the acknowledgement that there are other thoughts on the subject.
This prepares you to find commonality or agreement: Using slavery the economy of the south depending on slavery while the north’s did not. Try to find as many as you can. When we feel we have something in common, it becomes easier to be respectful to the person. Wide spaces have been opened to have a civil conversation where both can voice their choice, find common ground, and agree that differences is reference remain.
It is probably helpful to choose other topics to discuss with those who also have your bias. Only voicing these thoughts can get your right back into your bias.
Lastly you have to give yourself a bias check regularly on this issue to make sure that you are remaining inclusive, listening, agreeable and respectful.
This process needs to be repeated with each of your biases on your list. Finally this means that you need to devote time to cleaning up your bias. It will not go away by just writing them down and saying I am going to stop this behavior. You have to practice new behavior, using the clean tools of civility.
Orlaine I. Gabert
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