Civility in the News: The Problem with Civility

Cover of Dec 1 New YorkerIn the December 1, 2014 edition of The New Yorker,  an article entitled The Civility Wars caught our attention.  It brings to light concerns with the concept of civility.  The article refers to the work of civility expert P.M Forni, whom we have reviewed here.

 Hua Hsu, author of the article, writes:

The language of civility has always been a code of sorts, a way of holding life’s quotidian messiness up against lofty, sometimes elitist ideals of proper behavior.

Later he puts a finer point on his argument:

The problem with civility is the presumption that we were ever civil in the first place.

As promoters of civility, we recognize that there was no time in history when humans were idealistically civil. We know that humans don’t always, and  never have, consistently displayed behaviors that promote respect for others.

We are not suggesting an old-fashioned, mannerly approach to the workplace. We define civility as small actions that lead to respect for others. Mandating actions or behavior is generally a troublesome idea. Mandating something that has never been consistently achievable sets us all up for potential failure.

Instead, we recognize that there are people out there who take responsibility for being the “good” they want to see in the world. Our goal is to generate discussion about what actions impact respect for others and what the benefits can be when people choose to apply civility practices.Graphic of Saying Believe

We also hope to encourage individuals to reflect on small actions that matter, determine the personal benefits, and consider how to implement those actions into their work.

What do you think?  Tweet us at @seedsofcivility

The Seeds of Civility is a blog that is created by The Wallace Centers of Iowa.  Here we cultivate conversations about civility in the workplace.

A Practice of Gratitude: Four Outcomes that May Surprise You

Notice the small moments

A post entitled Grateful Moments by Tabby Hinderaker of daily ARC Coaching caught our attention after we wrote Challenge: Gratitude in the Workplace.

On her blog, she shared her personal experience of implementing a gratitude practice. This involved publicly sharing, on social media for 45 days, at least one thing to be grateful for each day.

We reached out to Tabby and asked; “What surprised you the most about your 45 day practice?”

Below we’ve summarized her experiences.

1. Being grateful is easier than we might expect
Tabby wrote…“There were several little surprises along the way. Most days, I was joyfully surprised by how easy it was to identify something to post about.”

2. Gratitude lifts our spirits
Tabby recalled…“Some days, I really didn’t feel like posting at all and wished I hadn’t publicly committed to do it every day. But on those days, I really challenged myself to find something, anything, to post about and in almost all cases; my spirits were lifted after posting my blessing.

This experience appears to be backed up by research on gratitude.

3. People, not things are what matter in terms of gratitude
Tabby also discovered more about her connections with others; “Honestly, what surprised me the most was how many of my posts were about the people in my life. Until you really pay attention to it, sometimes it’s easy to miss the difference that others are making in your life – how they help you have fun, how they are supporting your growth, or how they help you feel better. It was overwhelming to step back at the end of the 45-days and see just how many people there were around me who were contributing to more joy in my life.”

4. Knowing one’s core values matter
Tabby says, “Now that I know what my core values are, I create my goals and priorities to align with them.
When I have multiple choices to consider (related to professional or personal goals and priorities), I hold those choices up to my core values before making my decision so I can create a better outcome. When I’m determining how to spend my time, I think about it in terms of how I can integrate my values into what I do. When I am living in congruence with my values, I am more confident, more joyful, and more receptive to the opportunities around me. It is easier for me to notice the blessings in my life and to express gratitude to the people in my life.”

Tabby concluded her thoughts with a reminder for all of us as we move through our busy lives, “When I’m going too fast or spending too much time on meaningless tasks, I don’t notice the small moments that bring meaning and joy to my day, such as the dabbled light through the leaves or the bright pinks and oranges dancing on the clouds in the sunset.  I miss the little things that other people do to make my day greater.”

We are thankful and inspired by Tabby’s experience and her honesty.  Do you find it  easy to be grateful each day?

PS: We had the opportunity to partner with Tabby last month as we hosted members of the Des Moines West Side Chamber.  (See photos from that event.) She works with clients to fine tune their personal or workplace leadership practices.

Recap: Diversity and Inclusion Forum

Diversity and Inclusion

Graphic from Greater Des Moines Partnership

The Greater Des Moines Partnership offered the 2nd Annual Executive Forum on Diversity & Inclusion today. The goal of the event was to facilitate a dialogue on diversity and inclusion-related issues and initiatives in the workplace and community.

The Wallace Centers of Iowa attended because we believe diversity and inclusion can be addressed through thoughtfully applying civility practices in workplace leadership development efforts.  We wanted to learn more from leading companies about their approach to inclusion.

Excellent planning led to Sandy Harris, who is  Vice President of Corporate Diversity Strategy & Internal Operations at Sodexo, being selected as the keynote speaker.  Her company is #2 ranked-company on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity in 2014.

Some key learnings from her speech were captured in tweets from attendees who used #DSMDIForum. Here are a few:

  • Organizations with gender balanced leadership teams outperform teams without gender balance.
  • Sodexo took a Top down, Middle out, and Bottom up approach to their diversity initiatives.
  • Emerging economies are outpacing in STEM degrees compared to developed countries.

After the keynote address, the participants had a chance to select from three breakout sessions:

  • Global Talent Development with a speaker from DuPont Pioneer
  • Being in Iowa with a speaker from Iowa Public Radio
  • OpportUNITY: Creating Prosperity for All with a panel from a variety of organizations and businesses.

Attending the session on global talent development, we learned that one approach to addressing diversity and inclusion is to utilize the company wide engagement survey that is done annually.  The key to this approach is to follow-up with action planning at the team level and hold managers accountable for those discussions.

DuPont believes inclusion and diversity is essential to their ability to innovate. They see the power of sharing new and different beliefs and promoting  a culture of respect.  Our take away was that that diversity is not a nice to have, but a need to have strategy.

It reminded us of a quote from the man who founded Pioneer before the company became part of DuPont.

Henry Wallace quote on diversity

The only drawback to the meeting today was that we wish we could have attended the other sessions.

If you attended a session please share your thoughts below or send us a connection to your own blog or post.