What comes to your mind when you hear or come across the words “civil discourse”? Many people will argue that it means speaking in a civilized manner with people. And some will fall into the trap of thinking civil discourse is only with like minds.
When there are differences between people who have or share some beliefs or principles, they stay civil. Once it goes out of the particular boundary, civility becomes a challenging and rare proposition.
As a leader, you’ll find that these kinds of engagements will be frequent. It is also very important, inevitable, and has lots to offer. But to benefit from it, you must understand these four integral parts of civil discourse.
They will help you with why you need to engage in a discussion or how you should go about it, whether you agree with the person you are speaking to or not.
Civil Discourse – Why Is it Important?
There are a lot of political, social, and educational issues a leader has to be concerned with. One of them is civil discourse. But why is civil discourse important?
Understanding the importance of civil discourse is important for every leader. But before that, let’s look at the definition.
Civil discourse is a very productive and respectful dialogue that allows people to interact with others of differing opinions while they share theirs. These are all done in a way both parties understand themselves, even though they don’t agree with each other.
In a nutshell, civil discourse is:
- Less talking and more listening
- Based on the audience
- Truthful and very productive
- Every speaker’s responsibility, whether they are leaders or not.
Civil discourse is not any of the following:
- Exercising martyrdom
- Being polite
- Performative discussions
- Unveiling people’s personalities
Leaders must learn to engage in civil discourse to maintain a democratic environment and uphold freedom of speech. People should be able to come together, share their thoughts and experiences, engage in healthy and productive debates, and make informed decisions.
Every word in civil discourse matters to a leader. So it should matter to you as well. Not just the words. The framing of the conversation and discussion also matters.
Tips for Leaders in Civil Discourse
The four integral parts of civil discourse can be seen as approaches leaders can use to partake in or hold civil discourse.
For leaders, not every civil discourse has to end up in the concerned parties agreeing to a particular idea or being comfortable about the topic. However, suppose you must partake in civil discourse. In that case, you must be honest, open-minded, interested, and ready to share your thoughts and experiences in a very civilized manner.
Doing this would help you grow out of your place of comfort. However, expect to be criticized as well. While criticizing an opinion or thought, remember not to disrespect the other party. Be mindful of their self-respect. As much as possible, try to stick to the problem and not concentrate on the personality.
One of the basic principles of civil discourse is having opinions that are very valuable, factual, genuine, and free from all forms of biases. Valuable opinions are not just an integral part of civil discourse. They also help the conversation tilt towards gathering solutions and solving problems.
Leaders should never let their personal biases affect the integrity of their opinion. As much as you need to express your position, it must be something of value to the subject.
Leaders must be flexible while engaging in civil discourse. Remember that civil discussions are not debates where you come with the sole purpose of convincing a person or changing their mindset entirely.
Rather, it entails coming to the knowledge of different strategies and ways to handle a particular problem. If you are flexible during a discussion, you’ll find that you’d rarely get defensive.
Knowing other people’s views and opinions helps increase your horizons. To achieve this, you need to listen actively and understand, even if it differs from your opinion.
One of the basics of civil discourse is no judgments, no presumptions, and no biases. This means leaders have to ensure every participant in the conversation is given equal chances to express themselves free from judgment.
Leaders should ensure the environment for the dialogue is unbiased and every opponent’s view is properly understood. When you do this, arriving at a productive solution-based conclusion would be achievable.
These four integral parts of civil discourse are good for every leader to have at their fingertips. These, combined with effective listening skills and analytical and critical thinking skills, would help leaders solve difficult challenges, resolve conflicts, and engage in respectful and productive discussions.short url: