10 Civility Insights #Peopleskills – Feb 8, 2015

Here are the 10 questions Kate Nasser asked on her Sunday, Feb 8, 2015 Twitter Chat.  Reviewing it here gives us an opportunity to gain insight about civility and leadership in the workplace.

1.  Silence is a powerful form of communication.

Silence is one of the main ways to listen well.  Alternatively, silence can lead to an unintended meaning in the workplace.  For example if we are silent in a meeting it could be sending a message of agreement.

2. Becoming skilled at listening well and speaking up gives silence positive power.

Because silence is a powerful form of communication it can have big effects on the world.  The biggest impact comes when we become skilled in civility practices like listening well and speaking up. Then we know when to pause and when to ask questions that promote others to speak up.

3. Silence becomes the trouble when speakers lose their power.

Silence also becomes trouble when speakers become too complacent speak up or too fearful.

4. Children are our future, they need to learn the nuances of speaking up and silence.

The effects of the belief that “children should be seen and not heard” can prevent children from learning and developing important civility practices that will make future workplaces strong, resilient and sustainable.

5. Silence is golden in the workplace when…

Silence supports an opportunity for others to speak up or an opportunity for reflection. Silence is not golden when it recklessly conveys agreement or is used because of fear of a leader’s reaction to speaking up.

6. Silence in the face of injustice…

promotes at best complacency and at worst agreement with the injustice. In the workplace this kind of silence in that face of injustice will lead to bad decisions and eventually legal challenges.

7. Great leaders are skilled at silence.

Great leaders know how to utilize silence to give people time to think and time to respond. When they notice silence they inquire in one-on-one conversations rather than assume that silence equals agreement.

8. A leader’s silence can cause trouble especially when there is trouble.

The leader will be most effective when he or she is skilled at speaking up and connecting with the right people to root out challenges before problems become too complex to change.

9. Mindful vs. Mindless

Silence is liked when it is utilized in a mindful way. Silence is disliked when it is used in a mindless way.

10. Finding the balance between silence and verbal interaction can be found through applying the civility practice of noticing little things.

Noticing little things is the skilled approach to vigilance from the #peopleskills chat discussed last week. Allowing silence in the form of a pause after a curiously asked question is a form of optimism because it allows for the belief that other people have the answers, they just need to be asked in a non threatening way and given time to respond.  Next week Kate Nasser says the #peopleskills chat topic will be: Love/Appreciation.  That should prove to be an equally worthy topic.

Gather 510 px squareThe 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.

The Fine Art of Valuing Differences

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 Civility Quote

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.

Graphic of Cultivate 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

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.