Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given Feb. 24, 2019.
We’ve all experienced it: a family member, a coworker, or a perfect stranger says or does something to us that is downright rude. Maybe it was an impolite comment, an offensive joke or some other sign of disrespect. Yes, we’ve all been on the receiving end of such incivility, and perhaps, from time to time, we’ve even been on the giving end.
Why does this happen? Is it because we let the stresses and busyness of life fray our nerves and sap our self-control? Or do some people actually believe that incivility is good for success? Perhaps they think that being brash and impulsive somehow helps them get ahead in life.
The research shows otherwise. Georgetown University professor Christine Porath, who has researched civility for many years, found that people who are civil are viewed as better leaders. And their civility lifts the people they lead, resulting in more productivity and more creative ideas.
“Civility lifts people up,” she says. “We will get people to give more and function at their best if we’re civil. Incivility hijacks performance. It robs people of their potential. ... When we have more civil environments we are more productive, creative, helpful, happy and healthy. We can do better. Each one of us can lift others up.”
To do that, there are some obvious behaviors we ought to avoid: criticizing, mocking or ignoring others. But just as important are the things we do instead. Do we compliment people on a job well done? Do we listen and seek to understand another person’s views? Do we give others the benefit of the doubt? Do our words, our actions, and even the expression on our face communicate to people around us that we value and respect them?
Think what could happen in our homes, offices, classrooms, and countless other places if we just treated others with more civility. Think what could happen to our relationships, to our health and well-being. Yes, life is stressful and often uncivil, but we can change that — little by little — as we choose to embrace civility.
Tuning in …
The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM, ksl.com, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143) and on the Tabernacle Choir's website and YouTube channel. The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.org.