The Diversity & Inclusion Blog

The Importance of Civility in Trying Times

Posted On: Monday, December 04, 2017 Posted By: Diversity Office Tags: Civility, Committee on Equal Opportunity and Diversity



  1. formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech.

To paraphrase Justice Stewart, “I’m not sure what it is, but I know it when I see it”; or not see it as the case may be. A ‘Civility in America’ survey conducted in 2016 found 75% of Americans thought incivility had reached crisis levels, and 56% expected it to increase. Stress is, without doubt, one of the biggest catalysts of incivility. Anatomy faculty everywhere are being asked to teach more students and produce greater results with less time and even fewer resources. At a time where our ideological divides can seem overwhelming, how do we maintain civility? Below are the four best steps I have found so far for maintaining civility both in the workplace and outside.

Practice Active Listening

One area of everyday life in which to practice civility is that of conversation. A civil discussion is the free and respectful exchange of diverse ideas. This doesn't mean we all have to agree, but it does mean we must disagree respectfully. Practice active listening: give others the opportunity to state their opinions, without interruption. As you listen, cultivate three ‘possibilities’:

1.    The possibility you may be wrong.

2.    The possibility to admit you don’t know.

3.    The possibility there may be some good in their criticism or ideas.

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