Looking for a New Year’s resolution that goes beyond the usual? Sure, I’ll no doubt resolve to lose weight and exercise more in 2022. And, as I reflect on the past year – eulogies of Senator Bob Dole praising his life while lamenting the demise of the bipartisanship he represented… public officials fearing for their personal safety…stories about the “anger epidemic” in our country…cringe-worthy, expletive-laced bumper stickers in the grocery store parking lot…and a rancorous political season with some ads and tactics that can be described as distasteful at best – I’m struck by the opportunity for a more impactful resolution.
Let’s be civil.
What I’m proposing goes beyond Merriam Webster’s definition of civility: “Civilized conduct; a polite act or expression.” While that’s a good start, as a business community, we can do more. We can be role models of active civility.
As leaders, we can insist on respectful dialogue in the workplace. We can build inclusive cultures. We can listen to different points of view and drive toward consensus and connection. We can invest in community building.
We can also demand more problem-solving and less posturing from elected officials. We can support candidates and political leaders who consider bipartisanship a priority, not a sign of weakness.
We’ve seen what we get without civility…gridlock on critical issues, blame and entrenchment, acrimony in public meetings, personal detachment, lack of common connection, employee disengagement, attrition.
Civility is good for business. As such, I’m very pleased that the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce is partnering with the Sorensen Institute for Effective Leadership to promote positive discourse and solutions-oriented civic engagement. Stay tuned for more information about programs and events in the coming months.
In the meantime, don’t forget those small acts that plant seeds of civility. Let that car go ahead of you. Pay for the customer behind you in the Starbucks drive-through lane. Seek out a colleague who voted differently than you did – and listen to why.
For 2022 – let’s resolve to be a force for civility!
Wishing you a healthy, positive 2022,