Leading with Civility: 5 Steps to Include Others

Graphic of Include OthersNo matter where you work, there are probably people that feel left out; they might even appear like they want to be on their own. There can be all kinds of reasons for their isolation. The reasons do not matter as much as the steps you can take to include them.

Why does including others matters?

The benefit of including others, even the loners, is that they have something to contribute; perhaps it’s a unique perspective to the work you are doing. Including others contributes to an organization’s overall well-being, which is why so many are investing resources in practices that promote diversity and inclusion.

5 Steps to Include Others

Graphic of 5 Tips

  1. Pay Attention – The first step to inclusion is to pay attention to those people that seem to be on the sidelines; those who don’t say anything at a meeting or just keep to themselves.
  2. Don’t try to change the person – The next step is to realize that the goal isn’t to change them in some way or to “get them” to contribute. The goal is to understand their perspective.
  3. Assume a mindset of curiosity – Now that you know there are people out there with perspectives different than yours, you can assume a mindset of curiosity and a willingness to risk being rejected. They might not want to share their perspective so it may take patience and time.
  4. Build Trust – Know how to use social and one-on-one situations effectively. In social situations it is best to invite them along without expecting anything in particular. After you have built a level of trust, you can engage them in a conversation.
  5. Look for signs that will allow conversations to unfold naturally – Watch for signs that a conversation could unfold. Is the other person expressing any emotion? You can simply say, You seem_______.” You fill in the blank with the emotion you are observing. After hearing what they have to say, you can keep the conversation going with comments like, “I hear you.”, “How did that go?” or “What’s next?”

If you try these tips or have additional ideas, reach out to us at @seedsofcivility

Additional resource: The Inclusion Dividend: Why Investing in Diversity and Inclusion Pays Off by Mark Kaplan and Mason Donovan.

plant seeds graphicThe 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.

Book Review: Choosing Civility by P.M. Forni

Choosing Civility by PM Forni

How does a professor of Italian fiction and poetry end up becoming a leading expert on civility? P.M. Forni realized he wanted to teach his students to be kind human beings more than he wanted them to know about a particular poet. He took his role as a teacher seriously and started offering lectures and workshops on civility.

Forni introduces his book in this manner:

I am convinced that, to a significant extent, life is what our relationships make it. Every page of this book is imbued with this simple conviction. Good relationships make our lives good; bad relationships make our lives bad. We are usually happy (or unhappy) with others. Although at times we can be happy in spite of others, we are usually happy thanks to them, and thanks to the good relationships we have with them.

As you can see by the title, Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conductthere are rules of conduct, that Forni has determined from studying a vast body of work.  He looked at religious texts from major religions, Victorian books on manners, the works of philosophers such as Plato and Kant and more recent self-help books.

To many people, rules of conduct feel ominous, like a teacher standing over us with ruler in one hand waiting to correct our behavior.

If you dislike this didactic approach, another way to use the book is to look at the rules in the book as behaviors or skills  that are useful when it comes to building relationships with others. If you went through the rules you would probably realize that you are already applying many of these behaviors in your life. In addition, you might also be surprised by some of the rules.  For example “Give constructive criticism” is a skill or behavior that most people don’t think relates to civility.

Our intention at The Wallace Centers of Iowa is to look at the historical life of Henry A. Wallace and distill a few “seeds of civility” or practices that can be foundational to teaching leaders in the workplace. Our workshops include an opportunity for people to consider their civility strengths and then help them select a few civility practices to apply in an intentional way.

Civility and Brain Science

What does the latest research on the brain, especially from a new field of interpersonal neurobiology, have to teach us about civility?

Consider a time when you have noticed that feeling of confusion when a conversation or interaction goes awry. We often say, after a time to reflect on such difficult conversations, “I wish I would have said…”

The reason for this confusion is based on what we now know about the way the brain processes emotional information. If a conversation violates our values or deeply held perspectives, we have a physical reaction: Our brain tells us to fight or flee. This physical reaction can be as strong as if there were an actual threat like an animal attacking us. Because the emotional center of brain is engaged, the prefrontal cortex, where integration and rational thinking occurs, is not available to us in that moment.

Learning to notice emotional information and allowing yourself time to process it is a skill that can be learned and the first step you can take toward a more civil response.

If you have attended one of our workshops or are curious to understand more about the field of interpersonal neurobiology, here is a resource from the work of Dr. Dan Siegel.