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Creating a Culture of Civility and Respect

By Student Affairs
On February 24, 2016

Over the past several years, Concord University has joined campuses nationwide in a movement to promote civility at the college level.  The CU Chooses Civility Campaign was launched in 2012 to bring awareness to the issue and to promote good citizenship.  

Demonstrating civility includes being polite, respectful, and courteous.  Basically, creating a culture of respect means following the Golden Rule: “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you,” or, “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” However simplistic it seems, the Golden Rule is an excellent way to behave.

The lack of civility is not confined to college campuses.  According to Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate’s (2013) “Civility in America,” Americans encounter incivility an average of 17.1 times in a 7-day week. Additionally, 95% of those surveyed believe America has a civility problem and 70% think incivility has risen to crisis levels. If we are to combat this incivility and nurture a culture of respect, we must be consciously aware of our actions. 

    Actions that promote civility include:

-    Model behavior you would like from others.

-    Genuinely say please and thank you.

-    Focus on others’ needs.

-    Be intentional with communication. Practice listening skills.

-    Accept that disagreement will exist in your life. Express conflict in a healthy manner by focusing on the behavior and not the person. 

-    Appreciate diversity.

-    Be aware of your tone of voice. Also, consider how email, social media, etc. lack a tone of voice to help convey meaning.

-    Have difficult conversations in person or over the phone (see previous tip).

-    Do not act before gaining all facts in a situation. Avoid making assumptions.

-    Recognize others’ contributions to projects.

-    Understand your natural reactions and manage them with more respectful responses instead of reacting impulsively.

-    Avoid gossip and complaining.

If you perceive someone’s behaviors to be uncivil, first consider your own judgments and assumptions in the situation. If you still believe you should address the situation once you have objectively considered the behavior, The University of Missouri suggests a three-step approach: 

-    First, think about when to approach the person. At that moment? In private? Over lunch? Once emotions have diffused?

-    Second, formulate your words. Show concern for your relationship and demonstrate respect.

-    Third, be assertive but be ready to hear a different view or for him/her to become defensive.  

Concord University desires all university community members, including faculty, staff, and students to demonstrate civility in everyday acts. With the aforementioned tools, our traditional culture of civility can be preserved. 

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