We live in a time of growing dividedness at many levels of society and our own personal interactions with others. It seems that conversations on or off of social media and subsequent actions are contributing to an alarming divisiveness and disrespect.
I attended the Global Leadership Summit in August of this year. Bill Hybels, the founder of the GLS, gave the keynote address and called for all of us to take the initiative to model civility in our families, neighborhoods, organizations, and communities.
Read 1 Peter 2:17.
Bill Hybels, like the apostle Peter in the first century, echoed the call to “respect everyone always.” He suggested that, “Who I am as a senior leader is the place I need to start. If I’m going to be on the solution side, I need to make sure I’m acting in the appropriate way.” He then outlined ten rules we should consider applying in our relational contexts to practice respect to those in and outside of our sphere of influence.
1: Leaders must set the example on how to differ with others without demonizing them.
2: Leaders must set the example of how to have spirited conversations without drawing blood.
3: Leaders must not interrupt others who are talking and must not dominate the conversation.
4: Leaders must set the example of limiting their volume levels and refusing to use incendiary or belittling words that guarantee to derail a discussion.
5: Leaders must set the example of being courteous in word and deed to everyone at every level.
6: Leaders must never stereotype.
7: Leaders must apologize when they are wrong, instead of denying or doubling down.
8: Leaders must form opinions carefully and stay open minded if better information comes along.
9: Leaders must set the example of showing up when they say they are going to show up and doing what they say they are going to do.
10: Leaders must set “Rules of Respect” for everyone in the organization and enforce them relentlessly.
Bill mentioned another leader who developed a civility code for their company: 1) We will greet and acknowledge each other, even with a smile. 2) We will say please and thank you. 3) We will treat each other equally and with respect. 4) We will be direct, sensitive and honest. 5) We will address incivility whenever it occurs.
AT&T President Randall Stephenson wrote to his company: “I am not asking you to merely tolerate each other. Tolerance is for cowards. Being tolerant requires nothing of you. But to be quiet and not make waves, holding tightly to your views and judgments without being challenged. Do not merely tolerate each other. Work hard! Move into uncomfortable territory and seek to understand each other.”
How can staff and students in Chi Alpha chapters show some “grit” in their peacemaking efforts? It can start with civility. Don’t settle for anything less than treating others with respect, since everyone is made in the image of God. May Jesus help us to be practitioners of civility.
Serve globally. The university, the marketplace, and the world needs people of civility.
Love is a verb,
©2017 by Mike Olejarz