Author – Prof. Madhura Prakash, Assistant Professor, Department of ISE, BNMIT.
We are all the civilized people, living in a civilized society. Would we even believe that we are a part of incivility?
Incivility can be simply defined as any inappropriate behavior, showing disrespect or being rude. So, what exactly is an appropriate? What is the range of this appropriateness? We all believe that we behave and act appropriately to the best of our knowledge. But it is time that we introspect and question ourselves as to how civil we are, and also give a deep thought about the incivility that we have experienced.
Let’s discuss the possible incivility that we are unknowingly experiencing / causing with respect to the society we live in, to our subordinates / colleagues, to our students, to our children/family in general.
We are all definitely the civilized people contributing to the civilized society by our several acts ranging from paying taxes timely, maintaining cleanliness in our environment, separating the waste, planting trees and so on and so forth. So how can we be experiencing incivility in this society?
In a truly civil society one should not have to fight for respect or recognition of one’s human dignity. Unfortunately, we all experience incivility because of politics and social structures in the society, simply because there are many people benefiting from being incivil!!
A civil society should be people driven and we can contribute to a civilized society by being mindful of our environment, the way we interact with our neighbors, by trying to join an NGO and any voluntary sectors.
Is it easy for us to perceive our subordinates / colleagues as our collaborators and not competitors? Is it easy for us to appreciate the work of our subordinates / colleagues? How often do we acknowledge them?
Do we threaten, be sarcastic, backtalk, gossip, make insulting comments, not ready to offer help to someone in need? Are we disrespectful and disregardful? Probably not or probably not evidently! An incivility can be as SMALL as not responding appropriately, belittling someone, teasing, not responding appropriately to a conversation, or snapping the efforts of anyone. However small an act of incivility it is, it is incivil! Unfortunately, we all have been incivil at some point or other and we have experienced incivility.
As teachers, we have multidimensional roles towards our students and a variety of other responsibilities towards them. We definitely love and care for our students and we strive hard for them to be successful. However, because of the multitude of responsibilities we carry it is sometimes natural for us to sometimes be not mindful of our words / actions. Have we unknowingly been incivil to out students anytime?
We could have made our students experience incivility from us
Of course, as teacher we would have experienced incivility from certain students who fail to acknowledge the true efforts of a teacher.
Unfortunately, the incivility that we experience from the society or at work place or anywhere in general, trains us to be authoritative parents / spouse. It is natural for us to learn from what we experience. It is easy and natural for us to express our stress and discomfort as rudeness towards our children / spouse. It becomes easy for us to snap our child’s work and punish them for any of their simple act of play. We do not even recognize the importance of being gentle parents. We do not find it necessary to thank the simple efforts of our spouse /family members. On the other hand, how much of appreciation do we really receive for our efforts at home from our family members?
So, there definitely is incivility around us. And we have to understand that incivility can be any small act like passing a rude comment, being disregardful, mocking or belittling someone. Knowingly or unknowingly we all also have been incivil at some point. And we have experienced incivility towards us.
So, why would people really behave incivil? Probably because of:
What happens anyone who experiences incivility?
1. Incivility is emotionally exhausting
2. Incivility hinders our performance
3. Incivility is a threat to our confidence
4. It makes us feel less motivated
5. It makes us cut back our efforts
6. Makes us loose time by worrying about what really happened and
7. Probably makes us quit the job / work at hand
What if we were never incivil or we never experienced incivility but we merely observed the incivility towards someone else at home / workplace / class or anywhere else in the society? Would it really affect us?
Unfortunately, the answer is Yes. Yes, by merely being witnesses of incivility affects our performance and lowers our confidence levels.
It is important we understand that just by causing any low-level unpleasantness to anyone, we are being incivil. So, being civil is very important.
How do we make a shift towards being more civil?
By lifting people up and making people feel respected. Small things can make a big difference! Thanking people, sharing credits, listening attentively, humbly asking questions, acknowledging others and by simply smiling!!
So, how does civility pay?
People start seeing us as important and powerful. We become competent and smart, and at the same time warm and friendly.
Civil environments, make people to be more productive, creative, helpful, happy and most importantly healthy.
Can we strive hard to be more civil each day?
Let’s be more mindful of our thoughts, actions and let’s be mindful in each of our interactions!
Thank you very much for reading!
P.S: This is a topic that definitely requires years of intense research to understand it. I have just put forth my thoughts and opinions. I was inspired by the work of Christine Porath, Researcher. This made me choose this topic to write an article on.
For further information on this, please refer to her work here: http://www.christineporath.com/