What are the basic rules of civility? How do we practice civility among friends, in the workplace, and with strangers? How do we make it part of who we are?
I’m psychologist Dr. Dennis White with your mental health minute.
If civility is “polite, reasonable and respectful behavior,” or what we used to call “good manners”, why should we even have to discuss the rules or guidelines? Shouldn’t civility just come naturally? Apparently not, when people seem to think it’s ok to bully other people, to attack people personally for their views and to curse or swear indiscriminantly in public?
The Door County Civility Project has joined other similar movements around the country trying to promote the concept of civility and to teach us a little about how to behave with more civility. They have adopted nine core principles of civility. The first of these is “pay attention”. What, you might ask, does this have to do with civility? Dr. P.N.Forni in his book Choosing Civility says “Only after we notice the world and the people in it can we begin to care for it and them.” Every act of kindness is first and act of attention”.
A young, able bodied person on a bus cannot get up and give a seat to an elderly or disabled person if they don’t see them – by paying attention to their surroundings. Driving too close to someone, driving into traffic with high beams on are two similar examples.
How many times have you been in a conversation with someone who was obviously not paying attention and not interested in what you had to say? How did that feel? The first rule of civility is - pay attention. Until next time, this has been Dr. Dennis White with your mental health minute.
Dr DenNis White
The Nine Principles of Civility
• Pay Attention – Be aware of others and sensitive to the immediate context of actions.
• Listen Closely – Understand other points of view.
• Be Inclusive – Welcome all; don't exclude anyone.
• Don't Gossip – Remind others of the importance of this practice.
• Show Respect – Honor others (especially in disagreement).
• Be Agreeable – Find opportunities to agree.
• Apologize sincerely – Repair damaged relationships.
• Give Constructive Comments, Suggestions and Feedback – No personal attacks (focus on issues).
• Accept Responsibility – Don't shift blame. Share disagreements publicly.
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