Civility Matters

My colleagues at the Salt Lake Center for Engaging Community, particularly John Kesler and Jane Holt, have been hosting some significant state-wide work on civility. It is intended to create a more healthy pattern of dialogue at all levels of community and government. It has the backing of several key state and municipal leaders.

A while back I joined one of the evenings of community engagement. A couple of mayors in the Salt Lake Valley spoke to endorse the process. It was a simple format to learn more deeply with one another by sharing story and response to these two questions: 1) Why does civility matter to you? 2) Where have you seen civility at it’s best?

Lovely small groups convened. I love feeling the power of dialogue as the simple exchange helps make more clarity a more broad and rich intelligence. The group I participated in was hosted by another SLCEC colleague, Steve Prather. As I participated, I noticed and harvested the following five principles and practices to improve civility:

  1. Kindness multiplies (kindness attracts kindness).
  2. Brilliance is essential (in these times of intractable challenges and irrepressible dreams). Civility supports this.
  3. Give primary attention and time to what you care about (and do so by frequently asking what is possible).
  4. Ground yourself (incivility is a pattern and can sweep your feet out if you aren’t grounded). Yes, many of us live between worlds.
  5. Remain unquestionably committed to purpose. It is the center, the energetic hearth if you will. What my friend, Toke Moeller calls, “the invisible leader.”

I also harvested in this photo some of what I heard from the 6-8 small groups reporting to the whole group.

Rich learning. Much appreciation with and for these local colleagues.

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