“Civility in America,” an annual poll conducted by Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate of KRC Research, offers a picture of how Americans perceive the current state of civility. The study concludes that in general the workplace is one of the only environments where people from all backgrounds and perspectives interact peacefully. Of those surveyed, 63 percent think people are more civil on the job and 86 percent considered their places of employment to be respectful. While it may seem many are getting along from 9 to 5, further research suggests roughly 75 percent of Americans believe incivility has overall reached “crisis levels” in the United States.
Here are five practices in civility that work in the office and in life.
Polite behavior is much more than using the correct fork at the dinner table. Manners are about behaving in a way which takes others into consideration. Make an effort to model respect, show empathy and extend kindness toward those around you. Strive to be an example in your world – family, office and neighborhood.
If you find yourself in a discussion with someone of a different viewpoint, avoid trying to “win” the argument or persuade them to see things your way. Instead, listen, ask thoughtful questions and respond with courtesy. The interaction can be a golden opportunity to gain insight and learn something new.
While it’s important to be an informed citizen, don’t allow the daily news to jade your perspective or control your overall outlook. Despite how others conduct themselves, take the initiative to always behave, respond and react like a leader. For example, an angry employee can affect the behavior of the entire team. An out of touch boss sets the standard for his or her employees. An unhappy parent directly influences the behavior of their children. A disloyal friend can permanently damage a close relationship.
Bring something from home to the office that grounds you. A plant to purify the still air, a picture of your family or a favorite coffee mug with your daily blend will add a bit of comfort to your day. Set your environment up to be a peaceful haven instead of a battleground. Discourage office gossip and stay above the fray. Get to know your peers by joining the “lunch bunch” or occasionally going to the office happy hour. It takes effort to build solid relationships. Choose to be a beacon of strength as opposed to a weak link.
Coworkers must establish mutually beneficial alliances in the office since few have the luxury of working only with those who share their exact thoughts, feelings and preferences. Make a point of finding something you have in common with a peer. You both may have 3rd graders, or love to go fishing on the weekend. You may have grown up in the same small town or go to the same church. If you look hard enough and put in a little effort, you will no doubt find similarities. We are all more alike than we are different.
The bottom line is, civility starts with each one of us.
For more of Diane’s etiquette tips, you may enjoy reading 10 Steps to Living a Full Life. You can also visit Diane’s blog, connect with her here on HuffPost, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Buy her new book, Modern Etiquette for a Better Life.