Some of the beliefs that you hold valuable stand in direct opposition to the beliefs of others. Yet we are expected to live and work with people who hold those beliefs. It feels uncomfortable.
Parker Palmer, author of a book called Healing the Heart of Democracy helps to point out that there is a fine art to speaking up at the same time as valuing our differences. Palmer says that we do not need a civility that keeps us from speaking our beliefs. Rules of civility that focus strictly on good manners dampens rich, meaningful dialogue.
Through the use of the media (and now social media) things do get messy when people speak out. We see sarcasm in Twitter feeds, Facebook posts and on radio and television. If you are reading this after the January 2015 State of the Union address, search #breadbags or #SOTU and you will see examples of this kind of humor. Sarcasm is a by-product of our freedom to say what we think. It can be a defensive behavior found at the edge of an issue, and could be symptom of a deeper violation of one’s personal values.
We can lament or preach that cynical, hurtful humor is wrong. We can blame our media and the people who speak freely on their social media platforms. Unfortunately this approach only leads to more hype, blame and fear. Instead, try a new approach. Go have coffee with someone who typically takes another side of an issue that is important to you. If that feels too awkward right now, stay connected to our blog for some further posts on how to engage in dialogue when you know that you don’t agree.
The goal of this post is to speak to the part of you that can see beyond the drama of the media or workplace differences. We invite you to consider that other people do have a right their opinion and you can find value in that. Let us know your thoughts.
Seeds of Civility is a blog that is created by The Wallace Centers of Iowa. Here we cultivate conversations about civility in the workplace.fine
When people think about civility, they often think about being kind, having manners or being nice. Civility is a path to results that leads to respect for others. But it also means respecting yourself and figuring out how to speak up.
When I first read Choosing Civility by P.M. Forni I was happy to see that the author included a chapter called Assert Yourself.
Why does speaking up matter?
When you work to achieve results in an organization there are as many perspectives on the right way to do something as there are people. To get your opinions and perspective heard you will need to be comfortable sharing them. Consider these lessons:
4 Lessons about Speaking Up at Work
1. Silence can mean you agree
Have you been in a meeting where people just remain silent? The meeting might go fast but there is a danger in an organization when everyone agrees. By not saying anything or even asking any questions we give our tacit approval and one or two people lead rather than including varied perspectives in decision making. In an emergency situation that is fine, decisions of leaders need to be made quickly. However for longer term decisions such as developing new products, communicating customer service issues, or day to day operational concerns, each person involved need to share his or her perspective.
2. Everyone deserves to know where they stand
Do you have a hard time speaking up if you don’t agree with another person’s idea or approach? It is uncomfortable to criticize someone. Criticizing someone can bring up negative emotions. This brings discomfort but it is the way the human brain processes emotional information. Everyone deserves to know how you stand with them. Even if the person doesn’t like it and doesn’t respond well, it still makes the workplace better. For help on how to do it check out a great post from Inc.com Columnist Kevin Daum who wrote How to Give (and Receive) Positive Criticism.
3. Being consistent adds volume
The goal of speaking up is to make a difference. Being consistent is the most effective way to have your voice add up to being heard. There are a lot of competing messages so repetition is necessary.
4. Hard work won’t make up for not speaking up
Even if you don’t see yourself as a leader, and you don’t speak up, you are hurting both yourself in your career and the organization which needs your unique perspective in order to perform optimally.
The Seeds of Civility is a blog that is created by The Wallace Centers of Iowa. Here we gather tips for leading (and developing emerging leaders) with civility.
Consider this quote by Henry A. Wallace, a statesman, scientist and leader from an earlier generation. It suggests his approach to incivility.
Today, we still see faces distorted by anger. The hunger Wallace describes can be seen as a metaphor for not being heard, understood, or a condition from trauma of a difficult situation encountered earlier in life. When we see an angry face, we just don’t know what caused the face to be angry.
Prior to what historians now call the civil rights movement, Wallace faced angry faces and hateful reactions during his travels in the South. He saw the pain in the faces of angry people as a symptom of their state. It probably does not mean he excused them for their actions, he just knew that at that particular moment their actions were a sign of their emotions rather than a expression of their character. He had the presence of mind to not aggravate their stress.
Researchers suggest that we are wired to see facial expressions and react with a flight or fight response. So compassion must be intentional and developed at time when we are not in stressful situations.
Getting to the state of compassion comes from a personal decision. A person needs to get there on his or her own. Like the whole concept of civility, compassion cannot be mandated.
There are models of compassion out there. Who comes to mind as a model of compassion. What have these models of compassion done to get there?
Seeds of Civility is a blog that is created by The Wallace Centers of Iowa. Here we plant seeds of inspiration for your daily life.