it’s time to be civil (15)


6. Speak kindly. Speaking with consideration and kindness is at the heart of civil behavior. To speak kindly you need to be aware constantly that you are speaking to living, breathing, vulnerable human beings. Don’t discount the power of your words. The thought that they might cause unnecessary hurt or discomfort should inform every conversation. … By speaking with kindness you will improve the lives of those around you. …

“Make sure that you need to speak. (Sometimes silence can be kinder and more considerate than words.) When you speak you want to make a genuine contribution to the verbal exchange of which you are a part. Are you making it go forward? …

“Should you need to cope with conflict, do so in a fair fashion: you owe it to yourself as much as to your opponents. Never utter unkind words regarding their identity (racial, national, sexual, or otherwise) and other aspects of their personal life are essentially irrelevant to the contested issues at hand. … Throughout the confrontation never lose sight of the humanity of your opponents. Resist the temptation to think of them as faceless, nameless agents of the ‘wrong side.'”

Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni (St. Martin’s Press, 2002); pp. 60,61,62

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