Civility in 2019 : Protocol Consultants International




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Civility in 2019

by Judith Bowman on 02/20/19

Moving boldly and swiftly into another year of our Millennium, who would have dreamt that the enormous challenges our country would confront - in addition to man-made and natural disasters and imminent global dangers - would include a threat to the very core of our culture:  civility.

Road rage, bullying ... politics and polarization are real and rampant.  Disrespecting another person's opinion and shouting them down because they don't agree is downright rude. 

It is easy to be rude and hurtful hiding behind your key board or the wheel of your car blasting your horn uttering profanities.  It is also cowardly.  Being kind requires forethought and effort.  Acknowledging others, listening and understanding are skills requiring élan, sensitivity and finesse.  When we acknowledge others, show thoughtfulness or extend a gesture of kindness, however small, this serves as a stimulant (for them) and a lubricant (for us) as the "happy hormone" dopamine is released.  Ergo:  doing good (for others) also makes us feel good ... and it does not take much to make another person smile - - a kind word, a fleeting glance ! ... will lift another's spirits, change their outlook and maybe make a difference in another person's entire day.

We live in an uncertain world where multitasking and fleeting communication are the rule which places unprecedented pressures on individuals and professionals at all levels.  Ironically, despite the most amazing high technological advances designed to connect us, we have never been more disconnected.  "Virtual reality" is not real.  Electronic devices are tools in place to support our thoughts and actions not define them.  The fact is people do not know how to effectively communicate today and, in our unquenchable need to be connected, bedazzled, exceed barriers and limits and experience unprecedented thrills and speed, people are missing out on getting a fundamental human need:  to be acknowledged.  The intentional practice of acknowledging others through interpersonal communication and being "fully present" is rare and worse, has become a lost art.

There is a better version of ourselves within each of us.  Coming face-to-face with another person enables a direct understanding that people are capable of a deeper connection.  When others experience our presence, feel our sincerity, positive energy and caring, they feel acknowledged and trust that we truly value them. 

Why not look up from your screen, hold a door, smile at a random person, give an unexpected compliment, make random conversation with a perfect stranger.  Being considerate and respectful toward others is a distinctive trait and one reflective of our best selves ... and it's contagious!  Change starts with small steps and has a ripple effect... to change the world.

They say, "when a dove flaps its wings in China, the wind currents shift for thousands of miles across mountains and seas," which is just a poetic way of saying that everything we do has a ripple effect and that we are all inter-connected. 

We here in America have felt the ripple effects and have a responsibility to fiercely guard and protect our free society, and look out for each other, and future generations. This begins with showing respect - and listening - - even though we may not agree - with our parents, our elders, our president; agree to respectfully disagree.

World peace begins at home and finding peace and acceptance within ourselves, our own families, friends, and in our work environment is incumbent upon us. The New Year evokes reflection, resolution and attention to the imminent threat that compromises the core of our culture:  rampant incivility.

We have devolved as a society from the celebrated gatherer/hunter/"community" ethos into a less kind, less respectful even cruel society.

Q:  Can we teach kindness, respect, character?
Q:  Can we evolve back into being a kinder, gentler, more compassionate society?

Yes.  Everything in life is cyclical.  We can condition the brain to practice kind as part of the brain is empathy and compassion.  Kindness is synonymous with character and we can intentionally work to change our behavior and consciously extend the intentional practice of kindness. 

Our nation was built on principles where a promise with a handshake or one's word was good enough.  Let's consider a return to some basics which are easily attainable yet, need to be practiced every day in order to become part of you and your authentic self.  Start by being a better friend, partner, neighbor, co-worker and endeavor to comport yourself as your "best self." 
  • Acknowledge others
  • dress appropriately
  • give them your full attention
  • listen
  • be "fully present"
  • endeavor to understand
  • sympathize
... do the unexpected.

Things like thank you notes and host responsibilities seem so insignificant in the big picture, yet, ironically, the world is still all about respect, consideration and appreciation of each other in our daily lives. The New Year evokes reflection, resolution and attention to the core of our humanity.    

We all conduct ourselves in relationships with others however, the most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves. There is a better version of ourselves in each of us.  I have seen first-hand how our behavior directly affects others within organizations at every turn for the past 25 years.  

In Conclusion

While the world of etiquette and protocol are all about boundaries, in today's world, boundaries and promises once taken for granted, have been broken. Going forward, we realize, we can take nothing for granted.

Entering yet another New Year imminently filled with challenge, our promise and commitment to help make this world better for ourselves and our local and cross-cultural neighbors has only been reinforced and re- energized. Remember, everything we do has a ripple effect and we are all inter-connected.  We can't take anyone or anything for granted,  especially each other.

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