Is civility in our society spiraling downward? It often feels like that nowadays. This does not have to be the case in our families and in our own circles of colleagues and friends if we pay attention to how we are engaging in the resolution of different points of view. Civility is more than just politeness. It is possible to disagree with dignity and respect. Yes, it is possible to go high rather than low when a challenge presents itself.
The clients who come to me are somewhat self-selecting in the desire for an amicable, respectful way to approach their conflict. Even when one or both parties do not know how to engage in such a process there is a strong wish to avoid creating an adversarial situation – or making the current situation worse. That is the case whether the conflict is relatively low or high.
I structure negotiations with civility in mind. The process is structured so that the participants can work through differences and find a common ground. This requires preparation regarding the information necessary to make decisions as well as preparation for the negotiation itself. “How” parties arrive at solutions can affect the relationship and the health of the family moving forward. In other words, the way in which the conflict is resolved has a very strong impact on the outcome.
Effective participation in decision-making rather than positional threats and demands leads to results that are durable and workable. This comes through a facilitated dialogue and a balanced and thorough review of pertinent information. Stress, fear and anger can cause us to lose sight of ourselves. This may lead to a feeling of powerlessness and subsequent unproductive bargaining about important life matters.
When both parties agree that they want a civil process, ground rules can be established to accomplish that goal. These ground rules can be uniquely tailored to the situation. Here are 5 basic actions that encourage civility:
· Ban name calling or insults from your negotiation
· Listen to the other party without interrupting and remain flexible in generating options for solutions
· Treat everyone with respect
· Recognize opposing viewpoints without denigrating them
· Discuss issues cooperatively rather than argue
The degree to which we practice civility in our negotiations greatly impacts the results. There is a correlation before active, civil engagement and how both parties view the negotiated agreement and the relationship moving forward.