Let’s have an honest talk about the good old days.
And, please bear with us. This is going to go a little long.
Civility and discourse seem to be on the wane as the instantaneous nature of communication becomes more and more ubiquitous in our everyday lives.
It appears as though society has traded civility, good manners, good breeding and other elements of moral and Godly character, for an increase in perceived authenticity, the freedom to air our “dirty laundry,” and unload embarrassing baggage, not only on social media, but increasingly in the workplace, the church and the school.
Along with this comes the exchange of grace and forgiveness for the freedom to judge any mismatch of words and deeds, to take measure and revel in spectacle.
Thus, incivility becomes a new form of pornography—briefly gratifying when we are being “true to ourselves” and emotionally “authentic” at the workplace meeting table–but leaving behind a wake of emotional, psychological and moral damage upon others.
George Washington diligently copied in school 110 maxims for proper behavior, that were initially hand written and passed down from Jesuit scholars in the 16th century and were titled Biensance de la Conversation entre le Hommes (Decency of Conversation among Men).
They come from a time before the 21st century, when social conduct was considered more than just a sign of good breeding. Proper social conduct then, was part of the pavement on the road to success, along with grit, conscientiousness and perseverance.
But what about now?
Culture is changing because of three things:
- The speed of our communication
- The irreverence of our communication
- The disruption of long standing social mores
The conflicts of the 21st century in organizations of all kinds, will be between the vocal minority (also composed of the silent majority) who will hold to the rules of civility in discourse, no matter what the platform.
And those who will appear to be the majority (who may in fact be in the minority) who will throw the rules out in favor of the illusion of freedom, authenticity and the easy path.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org