Cultivate a culture of civility by setting a positive example in your everyday interactions

Faith WoodOver the last few months, I have been spending a good deal of my time training groups on the importance of being civil. It seems like a basic concept, but the impact of incivility is tremendous. Rudeness undermines our self-esteem; it significantly impairs our cognitive abilities and capacity to contribute.

Did you know that exposure to mild rudeness reduces your ability to think and problem-solve by 30 percent? Or that 94 percent of individuals saddled with incivility are likely to find a way to get even with the offender?

In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, from the grocery store to the playground and everywhere in between, fostering a culture of respect and understanding is more crucial than ever. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just navigating the complexities of daily interactions, chances are you’ve encountered your fair share of incivility along the way. And it is not pleasant. Even the most self-aware among us has undoubtedly behaved uncivilly when we are tired, rushed, or inconvenienced in some way. Or maybe just fed up with how we are being treated.

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Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of dealing with incivility, it’s essential to take a moment of self-reflection. Have you ever caught yourself responding curtly to a stranger’s request? Or perhaps you’ve been guilty of ignoring a neighbour’s greeting on a busy morning? We’ve all been there. The first step in promoting civility is acknowledging our own contributions to the social atmosphere. Remember, just because someone else is rude doesn’t mean we have to respond in kind. Take ownership of your actions and strive to be the beacon of positivity in your everyday interactions.

When faced with incivility from others, reacting defensively or with equal hostility is tempting. However, responding with empathy can often diffuse tense situations and foster a more constructive dialogue. Instead of escalating the conflict, acknowledge where the other person is coming from. Perhaps they’re stressed out from a hectic day or dealing with personal challenges. By approaching the situation with empathy, you not only defuse tension but also set a positive example for others to follow. So, get curious.

They say actions speak louder than words, and nowhere is this truer than in promoting civility in our daily lives. Whether at work, at home, or out in the community, your behaviour sets the tone for those around you. Take the opportunity to lead by example, demonstrating respect, kindness, and professionalism in all your interactions. Even small gestures, like holding the door open for a stranger or offering a word of encouragement to a friend, can make a world of difference in fostering a culture of civility.

Dealing with incivility can take a toll on our mental and emotional well-being. It’s essential to prioritize self-care and seek support when needed. Remember that you might act disrespectfully if you feel frustrated, impatient, or worn out.

In your everyday interactions, make an effort to offer thanks in surprising ways. This could be showing appreciation to a cashier for their diligence, praising a colleague for their inventiveness, or just recognizing someone’s hard work. Cultivating a habit of gratitude contributes to an environment filled with positivity and appreciation. Surprising others with gratitude not only uplifts the spirits of others but also reinforces relationships and encourages politeness in our dealings.

Promoting civility boils down to one simple principle: Just do the next right thing. Whether offering a smile to a stressed-out stranger, speaking up against disrespectful behaviour, or simply treating others with kindness and respect, every small action contributes to creating a more positive social environment. So, let’s commit to taking ownership of our own contributions to civility and making our corner of the world a little brighter each day.

Faith Wood is a professional speaker, author, and certified professional behaviour analyst. Before her speaking and writing career, she served in law enforcement, giving her a unique perspective on human behaviour and motivations. Faith is also known for her work as a novelist, with a focus on thrillers and suspense. Her background in law enforcement and understanding of human behaviour often play a significant role in her writing.

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