The holiday season is here, with family and friends gathering together to enjoy the company of others. We look forward to seeing those we may not have seen for a year. Those who may have traveled far to sit around the Christmas table, sharing recipes, diet plans, work challenges or maybe even those delicate areas of relationships, or, God forbid, politics.
With the strongly divisive tones of the political airwaves, have we established the ground rules of civility, before the guests arrive? In today’s world, whether family or friends, one has to surely consider whether to allow “fools to rush in where angels fear to tread.”
Do we forget manners and simple rules of engagement we learned in kindergarten? Has the “communication age” completely gripped our senses? Are we so quick to make a response that we don’t even hear one word of the other speaker? Are we too eager to get in another word shutting out all voices except our own? Can you repeat one idea the other speaker gave; did you listen for a validation of their point of view? Did you allow for interaction? Did you seek common ground? To disagree is natural; to be disagreeable is rude.
Being civil is more than graciousness and polite manners, yet those qualities are necessary in any dialogue. If one expects to engage in a meaningful exchange of ideas, then graciousness, good manners, good listening skills, respect for all speakers and seeking common ground should always be the end goal.
Hilton Head Island
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