No…this isn’t George Washington civility. It’s not some slick attempt to have you compromise or give up your core values, beliefs, or opinions. And it surely isn’t some politician’s self-aggrandizing stance in another meaningless media savvy “CALL” for civility.
No Sir. No Ma’am. This is Civility 2.0 and it’s fresh and different for 2019! Bear with me…because this is going in a direction, you’ll most likely feel really good about.
CIVILITY IS NOT about politics. It DOES NOT have anything to do with losing or compromising your beliefs or views. It DOES NOT get magically switched on in people’s actions and behavior when leaders “call” for it. It DOES NOT grow and sustain just because an organization or its leader adds the term into their core values, workplace policies, and public branding.
CIVILITY IS a set of soft skills that must be learned, practiced, and improved upon. It can and should be applied at work, in the home, within the community, and in the online environment. It’s for any subject matter – whenever there is a difference of opinion that one needs or chooses to engage upon.
Starting a Change…
Back in late 2017, my wife Nellie Ambrose and I had grown continually tired of all the name-calling, shaming, blaming, and impulsively adolescent behavior from our so-called societal and political leaders. Rather than simply accept it…or wait for some manna from ‘media influencer heaven’ to come down with a solution, we decided to take action.
Prior to starting, we recognized three things:
- Simply ‘calling’ for civility, especially in a top-down grandstanding manner is not going to spark meaningful change. It takes real action and stepping up into personal and professional accountability.
- With the right skills, continual practice, and commitment, nearly everyone can improve greater listening to, learning from, and respect for others – especially when you don’t agree with them on opinions, views, and decisions.
- The sheer volume of our everyday communication and engagements at home, work, online, and in the community means that even small improvements in civility, through many, will make big differences that inspire and add value.
And so we set a process in motion. To undertake to create a movement and learning organization. One that would focus on, and grow with a bottom-up, individualistic approach. Not a bunch of motivational quotes, having companies donate money, or drumming up inspiration to sign an online pledge with little meaning or carry-over.
We envisioned a catalyzing step where people had to ‘get real’ – with who they were AND wanted to become. To value the improvement of their own actions and behavior.
Named WALK THE RIDGE, this title serves as a metaphor for rising up, from our inherently tribal nature, to come together on a shared, timely walk of healthy engagement.
Not to be made to necessarily agree or even compromise, but to recognize that humans will always have a need to engage and communicate. So an investment in doing this better IS an investment in our next, healthier generation.
Those who ‘Walk’ the Ridge recognize that the practice and better habits of engaging others only serve to make them better to themselves – and as healthier ‘ether’ that spreads to others in homes, workplaces, communities, and our digital world.
The logo carries many cryptically designed facets of meaning. It is also what many people now wear on our products – which serves as a reminder for our actions. We believe that ‘wearing your civility’, whether it be our unique wristbands, shirts, etc…helps to let others know what you stand for and are committing to improving upon in yourself.
In this day, accountability is a tremendous lever and catalyst for change. After all, what’s wrong with being both praised and called out for, when it’s about working toward more positive change and growth?
Think of it as showing others YOUR walk. Because our diversity in opinions and views is in all facets of our work, life, and entertainment. Sure, we can debate and disagree…but we should not necessarily be going into a majority of our conversations and engagements with a zero-sum mentality. Where success is defined chiefly as coercing others to see OUR logic and light – or face the wrath of our labeling, shaming, blaming, and shunning.
And remember…those last four actions can happen in spoken and written manner – as well as in the non-obvious silence of our minds and future biases. Either result can often change the future manner in which we carry ourselves around and interact with these individuals in less healthy ways.
If individuals, companies, non-profits, sports teams, churches, neighbors, and schools want to embrace all the good people have to offer, we cannot let our poor engagement behavior cause our differences to work against us.
Everyone talks about the power in diversity, inclusion, belonging, and working together with our ‘greater goods’. It’s quite fashionable and trendy in business — but just saying those trendy words is a lot different than taking actions. One is “blow” and the other is “go” – guess which one inspires others the most?
If you want to make a difference, start by making it about yourself alone. Do it FOR YOU, start to notice improvement in your practice, and then work to share and grow it with and through others.
Here are some free tips that you can put into use for yourself or add into your organization’s culture and training.
We’ve had companies come aboard – and one great example is Caravan Health. They have not only put expectations and actions of civility into their core values, but they are wearing THEIR civility to promote greater accountability – individually and within their daily interactions.
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu once wrote, “Civility costs nothing…but buys everything.”My intent is not for a select, motivating quote to supplant the need for real action and meaningful change.
However…we need to think about the importance and value of our tone and actions when we communicate face-to-face and digitally engage others.
We are surely communicating easier and far more often than ever before – but if the quality is not opening up trust, hearts, and minds…then how can we expect that technology alone will be the key driver for relationships, stronger communities, and improved results in our company cultures and business functions?
Walk the Ridge is not about being perfect – but in committing better habits to personal practice. To look within the power of individuals to value, make, and then spread change. Our efforts in 2019 are centered on helping individuals, companies, and all types of organizations to embrace and support this effort.
Let’s stop waiting on media, political parties, and politicians to make a positive, lasting change for civility. Instead, let’s be our own music makers and dreamers of the dream in keeping our views while living a less stressful life with healthier-minded communication with and through others.