Our overall civility as a culture has dropped way down, and it’s a disaster.
Many people are leaving their jobs right now because they don’t feel treated very well, either financially or as human beings. Have you ever been in that position? If so, you know the kind of frustration that builds to the point that you feel like escape is your only option.
I knew of a great employee who yearned for recognition from the guy in charge of the company, and the boss wouldn’t give it to him. So the employee who failed to get the recognition he deserved took his clients and started his own firm. The company he left went from $150 million to zero in that same time frame. This is only one example of why civility and kindness need to come first in business as well as in our relationships with friends and strangers.
When people don’t treat each other well, negativity builds rather quickly and festers into something worse. Road rage is a good example of how bad things can get. Yes, a lack of civility can kill.
We can each do our part to increase civility in the world. We just need to be more conscious of how we treat others and how they treat us. We need to be civil with others and expect it in return.
For example, if someone feels they are in a higher position than you, they may believe they have the right to treat you as subhuman. They don’t. If something like that happens in your work life, I suggest you document it and take it to HR.
If it happens in your personal life, you need to tell the other person how you feel. These are vastly different circumstances and require different tactics, but both situations require tact.
You may not have the option of leaving your job. If you suddenly announce to your boss or a client that you don’t like how you’re being treated, you may lose your position or their business, so it’s important to be psychologically smart about it. You need to think before you act, and walking away needs to be your last resort in most cases.
Learning how to talk about feelings in a civil manner is really the answer. You need to learn to talk about emotions without getting emotional and to express how you honestly believe you deserve to be treated.
Imagine how nice it would be if everyone, and I mean everyone, were kind to each other. Let that sink in.
Cynics will tell you that if you’re trying to be nice all the time, you’ll be taken advantage of, that what you’re seeking is impossible. But if each of us takes part, we can make the world a better place.
Just smiling and talking nicely with a stranger who is helping you bag your groceries can make a huge difference in someone’s day — both theirs and yours.
We can choose how we behave, and we can choose how we accept or reject the behavior of others. And we can work on our relationships with those who are close to us. If you accept bad behavior, you get more of it.
But if you hold a firm boundary and reject the bad behavior of others — if those people love you, want you or need you — it opens the door to change.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do when you encounter bad behavior in people you don’t know or who don’t care. The only real option is not to deal with them. This may be the best way to set an example of how to deal with toxicity in human beings for anyone who is watching, like, say, your kids.
We have to raise the bar on civility. If you agree, then I leave it to you to find where and how to do it and how to spread the message.
People will always disagree, but they don’t have to be disagreeable. That’s a choice we each can make.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is an award-winning therapist and humanitarian. He is also a columnist, the author of seven books, and a blogger for PsychologyToday.com with nearly 27 million readers. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears Sundays and Tuesdays in the News-Press.