One of the main objectives of civil discourse is that it helps to achieve impressive results, especially when done right. It’s more promising in companies’ cultures than in other settings. Because of these impressive results of civil discourse, which can be easily categorized as productive, there’s a need to integrate civil discourse into the company’s culture.
It doesn’t only ensure every interaction is done respectfully or every dialogue leads to a productive outcome. Civil discourse helps create and deepen the relationship and understanding within a workplace.
Do you want to have a great company culture? Or is it for your board culture? Or are you after a high performance by strengthening team building in your company? Then try integrating civil discourse into your company. How? Let’s find out.
Steps to Integrate Civil Discourse
Whatever the size of the company, context, or type, these steps of integrating civil discourse will work like magic. They will lead to a better chance of having dialogues that are productive and done respectfully.
Before proceeding, remember that these steps are linked to each other. So, for best practices, you must integrate all of them, if possible, at once. But if you can’t, start gradually and integrate the rest along the way. Integrating civil discourse into your company’s culture would be much easier if it began with you.
Step 1: Build Agreement (Find common ground)
Have you ever been in a situation where someone makes a positive remark or compliment, then interjects with a “but,” then a negative remark? If you have, what did you do? Which did you address first?
Most people would be like, “why the but?” They will ignore the compliment before the “but.” That’s not how civil discourse works.
In civil discourse, you have to appreciate the first positive comment and try to understand the rationale behind it. After which, you can proceed to the remark after “but.”
In most cases, before then, you and the other party might have already gained a common ground that promotes civil discourse. At this point, figuring out the rationale behind the comment after “but” becomes easy.
This is called building agreements. It will let your employees know the common ground they share and understand each other’s rationale better. And even if there is a disagreement, they will approach it better.
Step 2: Be genuinely concerned and interested (Active Listening)
For this next step, you’ll need your active listening skill, which is very important in civil discourse. It would help show employees that you genuinely care about and value their opinions. That way, they will know to respect their colleagues’ opinions.
Let your employees know they have to prioritize knowing more about their colleagues’ opinions before asking questions or attempting to sway them.
To achieve this, you and your employees must show genuine concern and interest in understanding other employees’ experiences and opinions.
Always let them know that civil discourse is more about understanding others’ views or learning about problems. It’s not correcting those views or solving those problems.
Step 3: Focus on the topic, not the person
This might seem very easy, but it is, in fact, one of the most difficult to practice, whether in private or public.
Most people can keep things civil in public by not attacking people’s personalities. They will shut their mouth and not say a single word. But once they leave the public place, that person is done for. It can happen in heated email strings between the two parties or closed doors.
However, you should endeavor to always stick to the problems and not attack the person, whether in public or private.
Let your employees know civil discourse does not end in the workplace discussion alone. It also extends into how to interact with other team members. Civil discourse should not be just another eye service for your team. It should be part of your company’s culture.
How do you react or relate with your employees when they fall behind schedules? Do you attack them personally? Do you talk about them in their back? Do you co-ruminate or consternate? How you address these will be mirrored in how your employees relate to you and themselves.
Step 4: There is no winner in a civil discourse
Last but not least, civil discourse has no winner or loser. The most important part is that a productive conclusion was reached.
While you might honor the team or employee with the most contribution, don’t forget without the other members, they wouldn’t have thought about it that way. So honor both teams.
This also helps to create an enabling atmosphere for civil discourse that is not too heated and timid, as everyone is willing to contribute and listen to others’ opinions.
With the evolving workplace culture and the increasing level of sensitive discussions, there’s no better time than now to integrate civil discourse into your company’s culture.
It would let your employees know more about themselves, strengthen their relationships and bonds, and increase productivity. A little secret, civil discourse can become contagious. Let it start from you first and spread to your company.