If you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything. It’s not what you say it’s how you say it. Once you’ve said it you can’t take it back. You can disagree without being disagreeable and on and on it goes. There are many, many clichés. Many wise words of counsel speaking to the need for civility and kindness and yet there seems to be a growing sense of harsh, angry communication amongst people. It does not have to be that way. As hard as this is for some to imagine it is very possible to be civil and polite and at the same time have rigorous debate. My friend and colleague Barry Banther says that we can have difficult conversations while maintaining our self -confidence, self -control and self -esteem. I love that!
Technology is partly responsible for the decline in manners and civility. From the quiet of an office or room at home people can type whatever angry, attacking hate they desire with no knowledge of the impact that post or comment has on other. There are many people who enjoy the cover of their computer as they lob verbal attacks into Twitter, Facebook etc. News channels seem to think that the louder guests yell and the more often they interrupt the better the ratings.
Will this little blog have a measurable impact globally? No it won’t. Can each of you reading this commit to changing your communication? Yes. It is critical that we understand that rigorous debate can live in the confines of kindness, love and listening. “Speak the truth (even if it’s just your truth) in love.”
I am weary of seeing and hearing people being belittled because they choose a civil kind path to debate and communicate. It’s as if the only way to effect change is to rant and yell. People can be passionate about a position or role without making others bad and wrong. It starts with one fundamental idea…Listen, Acknowledge and Ask. Avoid being the one that has to talk over, make others bad, wrong and evil because they see the world different than you. None of us fully understand the context of another person’s position or opinion. As for me, I will choose to Listen before I speak, Acknowledge before I convince and ask before I tell. I will filter that through an assumption of positive intent. Will you join me?