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Tools of Civility


(Source: Speak Your Peace)


Pay Attention: Be aware and attend to the world and the people around you

  •     Be informed about what is occurring in our community
  •     Focus on the issue — on what the person is saying
  •     Consider the whole picture; issues are connected
  •     Open your mind to new perspectives; strive for objectivity

Listen: Focus on others in order to better understand their points of view

  •     Seek to understand; hear what is said
  •     Ask effective questions
  •     Respect the person and his/her view through your words and body language
  •     Give thoughtful attention; avoid distractions such as: your emotion, multi-tasking or formulating a response instead of listening

Be Inclusive: Welcome all groups of citizens working for the greater good of the community

  •     Know the community system in order to be inclusive (social, economic, environmental, technical, etc.)
  •     Intentionally and sincerely invite diverse perspectives
  •     Seek participation; take responsibility; include yourself!
  •     Use common language; avoid jargon

Don’t Gossip: And don’t accept when others choose to do so

  •     Go to the source for the facts; validate the information
  •     Communicate with respect and a positive intent; own what you say; be accountable
  •     Model integrity and mutual respect; set a good example for others
  •     Honor those who are not present

Show Respect: Honor other people and their opinions, especially in the midst of a disagreement

  •     Value the person; appreciate his/her contributions, experiences, passion, culture, norms and values
  •     Use questions to clarify
  •     Value ideas that are brought to the table
  •     Demonstrate positive body language

Seek Common Ground: Look for opportunities to agree; don’t contradict just to do so

  •     Rise above emotions; focus on the issues
  •     Build relationships; make a connection
  •     Work toward mutual trust

Repair Damaged Relationships: Be sincere; apologize and forgive

  •     Take responsibility for your actions and words
  •     Accept an apology
  •     Practice forgiveness; let go of the past

Use Constructive Language: Be mindful of the words you choose

  •     Address conflict with the intent of resolution
  •     When disagreeing, stick to the issues and don’t make a personal attack
  •     Learn from others’ perspectives and feedback

Take Responsibility: Practice accountability in language and actions

  •     Take ownership; use “I” statements
  •     Don’t shift responsibility and blame onto others
  •     Be trustworthy
  •     Tell the truth

Source: Speak Your Peace.  Owned by the community.  Supported by Community Foundation of Greater Southwood County. Copyright 2008.