Seeds of Dialogue: Four Civility Practices

Photo of Water Dialogue Dinner

Water is a subject that is on people’s minds. The Wallace Centers of Iowa and four promotion partners are encouraging people to talk to each other at Conversations about the Future of Iowa’s Water.

At the dinners, dialogue is structured with questions that naturally bring about four civility practices. These practices are taught in The Wallace Centers of Iowa programs for the workplace.

Speaking Up-

In order to understand issues better, it makes sense to explore what feels troublesome about an issue. Eventually a person will need to speak up in order for things to change.

When it comes to the future of Iowa’s water, what are your concerns?

Listening Well –

When a person speaks, they have a right to respect and to be heard. Listening well involves asking questions to understand and truly acknowledge what others are saying.

Thinking about the future of Iowa’s water, have you listened to the concerns of other Iowan’s?

Seeing Possibilities –

No matter what issues come up, there are always positive examples of people taking action. Being able to see those examples and build on them creates a more civil society.

What positive actions have you seen that address the future of Iowa’s water?

Responsibility –

Each person must assume some level of responsibility in order for any kind of civil action to occur on a larger scale. In the case of the future of Iowa’s water there are two questions to consider about responsibility.

What role do elected officials have to play?

What personal actions have you taken or plan to take to improve the future of Iowa’s water?

Discussing questions in a small setting, after getting to know new people over dinner, is a simple but profound experience.

Promotional Partners include:

Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance

Iowa Environmental Council

Iowa Association of Water Agencies

Iowa Farmer’s Union

Seeds of Civility is a blog that cultivates conversations about civility and leadership in the workplace and in the community.  Keep the conversations going!

Graphic of Cultivate

Leading with Civility: Listening Well Assessment

Graphic of Listen WellWhy does listening well matter?

In a recent post, 4 Tips for Developing Millennial Leaders Now, it was noted that emerging leaders want to improve the way they communicate, build relationships, and develop others.

Listening is an essential communication skill that all the other leadership and civility practices depend  upon. Listening well is a series of four small actions that matter when it comes to creating a respectful workplace. These small actions include:

1. Making eye contact with the other person.

2.  Getting down the basic details of what the other person is saying.

3.  Asking questions to gain a deeper insight into what the other person is saying.

4.  Checking with the person to see if  the meaning is understood.

Graphic of 4 Components of Listening

A great way to support emerging leaders to develop these skills is to model them. Here are a few questions to assist you in assessing  how  well you listen.

Self-Assessment  (Rate yourself as never, sometimes, or almost always)

  • Do I make eye contact when someone is speaking?

  • Do I listen for details?

  • Do I ask questions that help the person explain the purpose of their communication?

  • Do I summarize what I heard and check for understanding?

Next Steps

If you almost always take these small actions, you are modeling strong listening skills.  A good next step to helping to develop an emerging leader would be to share this assessment with the person you are developing.  They will determine where they need more awareness and practice and you can give them support and feedback.

If you sometimes take these small actions, you can improve with awareness.  A way to motivate yourself is to imagine a more respectful workplace by consistently modeling the skill of listening well.

If you rated yourself as never, perhaps you really don’t want a more respectful workplace because you feel that this type of workplace would be less effective.  A point of clarification is a reminder that skilled behaviors like speaking up are important for an effective workplace.  Listening well is the complement to speaking up.  Both skills need to be present.  People who listen well naturally may not be skilled at speaking up.  People who speak up naturally may not be skilled in listening.

We are curious to know about your experience with communication skills.  What great resources are available?

Gather 510 px square

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.