Civility Has Left the Building

Today, like every day, I listened to the news. I will move between CNN, MSNBC and POTUS during my drive to and from work. I am especially fond of Michael Smirconish. He is both liberal and conservative in his views and tries very hard to give all sides of the political nuances an opportunity to state their case.

Today, on CNN, Michael was talking about the President’s approach to the many confrontational areas throughout the world. I did not think it was an easy topic to discuss and from the approach of the two individuals included in the discussion, it was impossible to agree on anything. Their discussion was contentious, overbearing and at times simply rude. They both talked over each other. They did not listen to each other’s points of view and it became one of those typical verbal battles that produced no real winners. The one who can yell the loudest is the winner. There was no civility. I believe that the ability to talk through an issue is a lost trait that has been replaced by extremism and a failure to understand that there may be more than just two sides to any issue. When recognized, the diversity of any issue might lead to a potential for compromise. What a completely foreign thought.

Compromise seems to be a very dirty word that a majority of the political figures and news commentators do not understand. They are quick to point the finger but they have no real solutions. The other amazing fact is that these political pendants always have something to say but have absolutely no real experience dealing with the facts of the issue. It is only their opinion and nothing more.

It is easier to call someone a name without reason than to face the fact that they may not have all the answers and need to listen. I, like most Americans are so feed up with the political status in the United States. It is simply disgraceful and presents a clear picture to a very silent majority that positive change will never happen. I continue to believe that we need a complete overhaul in congress. We need new blood. Extremism on either side of the political spectrum is NOT the answer. The old guard does not get it and extremist pound their chest for a better tomorrow without providing any solid way to get to any resolution. It is easier to be loud, disruptive and rude than it is to reach a point of agreement. We witness this every day in business, work and life.

I cannot place blame just on the politicians or news commentators. This new normal or way of life seems to be prolific and no one wants to stand up and suggest that this way of approaching life is dead wrong. It exists in business, churches, local governments and other countries. We have lost our ability to talk to each other. We have lost our ability to be civil to each other. Some of this, I believe, is due to the technology. Some of this is also due to the fact that all you see in the world is a lack of civility among all peoples. We see and hear that old adage, “my way or no way.” I understand clearly that at times there are no clear or easy solutions. We are breeding a very complex world that I believe will implode upon itself one day. But there must be a way to help us see that this overwhelming need to shout down the person standing next to you is not appropriate.

I was talking with someone last week. I was attempting to help solve an issue and I could not even get one word in because the person on the other end of the conversation was shouting, directing and dictating what they believed was the only answer to the issue. It did not matter that I had a compromise that would meet their needs. As a result the wrong decision was made and fostered a loss of civility for everyone involved. Civility is just not a word. I should be a way of life. It is not.

Mr. Smirconish tries very hard to present everything he says in a positive civil way but unfortunately his “professional guests” do not have a clue about what that means. As a result of this nonsense I shut the radio off. The discussion went nowhere. It was an absolute waste of my time. No one presented an actionable approach towards civility. It was about what each person wanted. It was not about compromise. It was only about how extremism was the answer to all sides of the issue. This is just one example of how the experts have moved from discussion to a complete lack of civility.

Listening to what is presented from the other side of the issue is important, very important. Understanding that our own position may not be the right position to take is more important now than making sure your position is the only position. We look like a bunch of fools who have lost our way in the forest and forgot about the trees being cut down around us. At the end of the day the forest no longer exists and we do not know why. It is obvious that civility left the building many years ago and returning to any sane position may not be a reality. We have lost our ability to honor those with different perspectives and views. We have lost the art of listening. We talk about transparency and practice dictatorship. It is easier to bully a person into a state of fear than to listen to what they might have to say.

We all have a choice to make. Support the continue lack of civility or stop this trend to be absolutely right. I am going to stop the trend and not participate in this type of destructive behaviors. I am going to bring civility back. Join me in the journey. It is past time for the very silent majority to stand up.

Jim received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in Human Resource Development and has over 40 years of management experience in 5 different industries. He has consulted for Raytheon, Century 21 and Motorola. He retired in 2005 as the Sr. VP, Human Resources for Trident Health System (an HCA facility). His specialty is talent-based organizational development. Jim has recently accepted a position with Shorter University as the Associate Vice President for Online and Professional Education. Shorter University's primary campus is located in Rome, Georgia. His role will include the strategic management of online programs for the university to include the College of Adult and Professional Programs located in Rome and Atlanta. Dr. Jones is looking forward to helping change the lives of those he touches every day in the pursuit of excellence in adult education. This includes students, faculty and staff.