Civility and Your Civic Duty: Happy Election Day

November 6, 2018 Sarah Mulcahy

Voting Day

I’m a word nerd. So when I heard my colleague Mike Wood was going to interview Georgetown University professor Christine Porath about incivility, I became curious about the etymology of the word – especially considering today is election day in the United States, where we consider voting a civic duty.

Civil sounds a lot like civic, doesn’t it? In fact, civility is derived from the Latin word civilis, “relating to a citizen, relating to public life, befitting a citizen; popular, affable, courteous.”

You might think it’s ironic that the origins of civility are related to public life, when it seems civility and respect are sorely lacking in today’s political discourse. No matter which party you’re voting for today, I think we can all agree our democracy – and our workplaces – operate much more efficiently and effectively when mutual respect is appreciated and demonstrated.

“At the core, we’re all humans looking to connect,” says Christine. “We should try to focus on what we can do to demonstrate respect even in those tense moments where we feel like we strongly disagree.”

The workplace is a great place to start. In Christine’s recent TEDx talk, she says incivility is all in the eyes of the beholder and gives the example of texting during meetings or when someone is speaking to you. You can demonstrate civility by just being more aware of what someone else might feel is disrespectful.

Christine also recently spoke to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about civility training as it relates to preventing harassment in the workplace. “If we focus on something positive, we’re more likely to build respectful workplaces where harassment would be less pervasive and less tolerated. More people are open to the idea of civility training, where we can all improve, versus harassment training where a lot of people think, ‘I would never do that.’ ”

Listen to the full interview with Christine below – but not before you get out and vote!

Happy election day, readers!

About the Author

Sarah Mulcahy

Sarah is senior content marketing manager at Workhuman. When not writing and reading about all things culture, leadership, recognition, and appreciation, she enjoys iced coffee, running, and spending time with her daughters, Mabel and Eva.

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