What is civil discourse?
A dialogue of mutual respect and listening where people are open to learn, constructively articulate a point of view, explore areas of agreement and disagree respectfully.
Why is civil discourse important?
Civil discourse helps people engage in productive and respectful dialogue, even if they disagree with each other.
Differences can pull people apart and dialogue can become strained or disrespectful. Instead, when people use civil discourse, we benefit from multiple perspectives and solutions that contribute to better decisions, improved public policy and better quality of life.
What are the basics of civil discourse?
- Show mutual respect. Use words that are not mean and be kind, even when you disagree.
- Listen and respond with an open mind. Listen to understand and allow for the possibility that someone else has a good idea. Clarify when needed and don’t assume.
- Look for areas of common ground. Identify shared goals or problems and acknowledge what you agree on or see similarly.
- Use evidence and know your subject in discussions. Share the facts that support your point of view, ideas or proposal.
- Critique the ideas, not the person. You can disagree with the other person's point of view but do not attack the person. Civil discourse is not personal.
- Ask questions when you do not understand. Clarify comments and information.
- Look for areas of common ground. Seek out and note the items, policies and ideas you can agree on or see similarly.
- Be willing to use dialogue to promote civic engagement and challenge practices that discourse civic engagement, and equitable access to civil discourse.
Want to learn more?
Attend a session about civil discourse. Guest speaker David E. Smith will explore how we can have meaningful, respectful conversations on difficult topics, even when we disagree.
On Oct. 3, the Everett Public Library and the Community Development Division are hosting a special event at Cascade High School Library. The event starts at 6:30 p.m.
Philosopher David E. Smith will give a talk about civil conversations in an angry age. He takes a deep look at those moments when civility breaks down and explores how we can have civil conversations on notoriously difficult issues.
Smith also provides participants with the tools needed to embark upon more thoughtful, fruitful discussions. An interactive workshop will follow the talk.
Registration for the free event is required.
Revive Civility, National Institute for Civil Discourse www.revivecivility.org