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Civility: Create positive relationships

August 12, 2010|By Diana Olson

Part 2: The ultimate goal of civility is to create positive relationships and social exchanges that take into consideration the thoughts, feelings, ideas, and comfort of others. It is about verbal and physical restraint of negative destructive emotions and desires. It is about stopping to think before taking action.

What will be the consequences of the words and actions that you use in an angry moment? Stating your needs in an assertive and calm manner; and using kindness and thoughtfulness will often get more of your needs met than using aggressiveness. The goal is to have healthy and happy relationships that are essential to a better quality of life.

I was reminded of a recent meeting where there were open discussions and others were sharing their differing opinions. One person struck out toward another with an angry statement, "You are wrong in your opinion!"

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Needless to say, everyone was stunned by the tone, disrespect in her voice, and the insulting way that she demeaned and humiliated the other woman. Incivility is putting another person on the defensive when they have a difference of opinion. Everyone does have a right to their opinion and to be treated respectfully, though agreement is not always necessary.

Defensiveness is often shown in body language of the other person while they are nursing their wounds after a verbal attack. There is a boundary that limits self-expression and entitlement where there is uncontrolled rude behavior toward another. The question that one needs to ask oneself is whether it is important to be right or happy. Blame and disrespect toward others hinder the possibility of creating positive relationships.

Self-restraint is encouraged when there are possibilities of social discussions about religion, sex, salaries, and politics. Political discussions can be contentious because there are currently such strong differences in political thoughts. It is necessary and important that both parties are responsible in showing respect for these differences.

How does one encourage civility, tolerance, respect, and still maintain harmonious relationships? First, it is best not to assume that everyone's opinion is the same as yours. Freedom of speech is a constitutional right of all Americans. Though you may be limiting your own education if you are unable to be open and respectful, it is best not to encourage such a political discussion.

Listening respectfully, one can learn from someone who thinks and feels differently than you. While this may be a challenge, thoughtful analysis about the political situations can breed stimulating conversations, as long as others are willing to be open, considerate and respectful.

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