Civility – its formal definition is politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech. Have you noticed the lack of civility getting worse by the day? I know I have. Some examples I’ve observed recently include presidential candidates verbally attacking one another, incessant road rage at all hours of the day, bullying on social media and colleagues or friends sending emails with a nasty, abrasive tone. Need I say more?
Stress can lead to negative actions and consequences, eventually taking a toll on how we interact with each other. With this pressure constantly surrounding us, how can we learn to manage it in our professional and personal environments?
I am not an expert on civility, nor do I think I have all of the answers. However, I am a self-proclaimed optimist, and some solutions stick out to me because I think in positive terms. Based on my experience, here are some easy ways to deal with negative stress through civility:
- Think twice before you speak. As our mothers taught us, if you don’t have anything nice to say – don’t say it at all. If you are tired, stressed or just annoyed, don’t react right at that moment. Walk away and give yourself some time to process the situation. By taking a break, your response will almost always be more measured and level-headed.
- As the saying goes, “kill them with kindness.” Nasty comments or actions become elevated when you rise to the bait that a frustrated client, colleague or friend puts in front of us. On the contrary, being kind and thoughtful, even when that person is doing the opposite, almost always defuses the situation.
- Be proactive. Make it a daily goal to be more positive towards others and yourself. A simple compliment or smile may help turn one’s bad day around. Positivity is contagious!
- Avoid posting negative comments online. People often feel anonymous when talking on the internet and are more compelled to say something mean as a result. Although one may not see his or her reaction in-person, those comments are still hurtful and rude. Don’t lower yourself by making someone feel worse. Instead, think of positive way to express your feelings, as it will get your point across more efficiently and may influence others to do the same.
Incivility is detrimental for all types of relationships and can make a substantial impact on all aspects of your life, including work, family and friends. While it may seem unavoidable at times, it is something that is well within your control. Treating others with respect goes a long way and is quite empowering – not just for others, but yourself, as well.