Why Civility?

Why Civility?

by necoaching

What does it take to make a relationship work? Or perhaps more importantly, what is typically at the heart of a relationship breaking down. When you meet somebody for the first time common courtesy (for the most part) and benefit of the doubt puts the relationship somewhere on an even keel. Then depending on the subsequent course of action and behavior, it either goes up or goes down. One of the key behavioral drivers to this is the degree of civility, or perhaps lack thereof.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, authors Porath and Pearson suggested that the price of incivility (rudeness or lack of respect) is hurting morale and ultimately the bottom line. They go as far as to suggest that “leaders at work can counter rudeness by monitoring their own action and fostering civility in others.” Common sense and life experiences would suggest a general nodding agreement with this sentiment.

There are a variety of strategies that can be employed consciously to ensure civility.

  • Respect – everybody deserve this no matter who the other person is and irrespective of where they fall in the diversity spectrum.
  • Self Awareness – watch yourself and solicit feedback to make sure that how you show up is consistent with your intentions.
  • Vulnerable – put yourself out there and do not fear moving outside your comfort zone
  • Optimism – see the good first, seek the opportunities and make choices accordingly. Where you focus (optimism) is where you typically tend to go.
  • Compromise – make agreement the main focus; by understanding differing points of view it will help move towards a decision that is for the larger good.

All of these behaviors also lead to reciprocity. You will find the more civil you are, the more civil others will be with you. As Gandhi so eloquently said, “be the change you want to see.” It starts with you.


  1. The concept of fearing someone we feel will stab us in the back on their way up the corporate ladder or matching a person’s tone is real in the workplace. It creates disdain and disrespect. I agree with the Harvard Business Review perspective that morale and the bottom are at stake. How we deal with these actions ourselves is critical. We are taught about respect from a young age, but it is not always practiced. I have learned to consciously read articles and watch shows with varying opinions as my own to make me more open to people’s thoughts and opinions. I didn’t realize how much it truly does open up my mind to respecting other people and their views. Great teachings for the workplace. I hope you don’t mind that I’ve included this link in my own blog on “Setting an Example.” – Thomas B. Dowd III author of “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide” and “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World”

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