Three Statements That Help Civility

I am sitting in a speech by a former state delegate of Virginia, speaking at an evening session of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership’s Candidate Training Program. She’s talking about the qualities of leaders.

She identified three statements that can help any leader foster better relations, better understanding, and better results. That is, foster great civility.

These statements are:

Why do you think the way you do?

I don’t understand what you just said.

I think you might have misunderstood me.

These are things I plan to remember.

3 thoughts on “Three Statements That Help Civility”

  1. Let’s double down by adding a little which might promote civility even more:

    1) Tell me about an experience that illustrates your perspectrive.
    (risks complexity, but by asking for a story, may engender less defensiveness. Plus….its harder to say this in a f@#ked up mannner.

    2) I really want to better understand what you just said. (conveys deeper intention, not just reports miscommunicaiton.

    3) I am worried you may not have understood what I really meant, and the intention behind it. (Moves the conversation to both re-iteration and opens the door to an intention conversation, where there may be more naturral alignment)

  2. Yes! (And I love David’s addition.) Now that I think about it, almost every stupid argument I’ve ever gotten into (especially online!) would have been avoided by thinking this way. In fact, speaking of online arguments, I often do find, later, that I have reacted defensively to an inaccurate assumption about what the other person is saying. These questions might even be more important online, because of all the cues that are missing.

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