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