American Nurse Today
Issue Date: May 2012 Vol. 7 No. 5
Author: Judith "Ski" Lower, MSN, RN, CCRN (Alumnus)
Civility starts with you
||Each of us must choose to behave in a way that shows respect toward others and makes others feel valued.
...What is civility? Civility is behavior that shows respect toward another person, makes that person feel valued, and contributes to mutual respect, effective communication, and team collaboration. Author P.M Forni describes civility as a form of benevolent awareness (respect, restraint, and consideration) in his book Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct.
In Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy, author Stephen Carter describes civility as the sum of the many sacrifices we're called on to make for the sake of living together. He stresses that our duty to be civil to others doesn't depend on whether we like them. Civility doesn't require us to mask our differences but to resolve them respectfully--to express ourselves in ways that show we respect others. Civility allows criticism of others, but the criticism should always be civil. Being civil means thinking before you speak.
Why bother being civil? Who has the time, energy, or resources to focus on being civil? Why should you bother? Because civility can be the foundation for patient safety, a healthy work environment, healthy staff, and increased productivity. Civility affects the quality and quantity of our hard work. Incivility, in contrast, is a short step away from aggressive behavior, which can lead to lateral or horizontal violence.
What if each of us made a commitment to change our behavior? To forgive those who've done us an injustice? To choose to revise our assumptions of others? To seek common ground, goals, and purpose? Why not just do it--even if you're the only one? The goal of being civil is not to have other people reciprocate respect and kindness to you (though that's usually a natural outcome). The goal is for others to see you as successful when you continue to practice civility, regardless of others' responses. It's about you, not them....