By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

August is National Win with Civility Month!

This gives us the opportunity to discuss everyday occurrences where being civil can help us take control of a potentially messy situation and keep things well!

I recently read an article in Psychology today Co-authored by George S. Everly, Jr., PhD, ABPP, the Johns Hopkins University. The article was of interest as we need to come together and restore our civility towards one another.


This Country is in a Civility Deficit and without a return to civility, “free society” will likely erode and disappear.

By most accounts, it would appear our society is challenged. Economics, immigration, violence, healthcare, and even the national debt appear to be challenging the current vibrancy and future well-being of our society. We believe the intensity of these challenges is made worse, while the likelihood of finding resolutions is greatly diminished, largely because of what we shall refer to as the civility deficit.

What Is Civility?

Civility may be defined as politeness, courtesy, and respect. The term civility is derived from the Latin civilitas and gives rise to the term civilization. Civilization, in turn, is that essential process by which humanity transcends ignorance, resolves conflict, and reaches its most advanced stages. Indeed, social anthropologists have long argued that the key to human survival in the pre-historic eras, when the environment was extraordinarily hostile, was the ability to cooperate socially and to collaborate in task related groups.

The Civility Deficit Threatens the Workplace

Currently, it may be argued that many of the most desirable places to live, regardless of geography, are characterized by a civil and cooperative populace. The best places to work are respectful and cooperative. Most of the greatest discoveries in the history of humankind have been made through collaboration.

How it impacts the workplace:

  • 78 percent of people who experience uncivil behavior from their co-workers become less committed to the organization; and 16% of those treated poorly on the job indicated they had left previous jobs due to a lack of civility at work
  • 66 percent of those treated poorly suffer a decline in overall performance
  • 47 percent exposed to uncivil actions deliberately spend less time at work
  • 25 percent treated poorly take their frustrations out on customers.

The Civility Deficit Contaminates the Flow of Useful Information

Accurate and timely information is the backbone of any free society. Such information is the moral obligation of elected officials as well as news outlets. The civility deficit threatens this essential process. It threatens the perceived accuracy and even the perceived motivation of politicians and information outlets alike. It turns a political debate into a mean-spirited rhetorical brawl and reportage into agenda-driven commentary.

How to Restore Civility

We can work to restore civility on three levels.

On the interpersonal level:

  1. Reach out and engage those with differing points of view.
  2. Listen respectfully to their positions.
  3. Employ “perspective-taking.” Switch roles momentarily and try to understand the bases for the other’s viewpoints. Try to see and understand the world through their eyes.
  4. Respectfully offer your viewpoints and encourage them to do the same perspective-taking.
  5. Do not tolerate incivility and bullying on social media.


  1. When applying for jobs, look for civil trustworthy employers, perhaps those who contribute to civilization as well as their own profitability.
  2. Do not tolerate bad behavior, bullying, management by intimidation, or a generally abusive workplace, once hired.
  3. Incivility should be viewed as a sign of incompetence.
  4. Leadership can choose to create an organizational culture wherein incivility becomes counter-cultural and unacceptable. Or they can choose not to, which speaks volumes.

We have found that price of entry for a leadership role is self-awareness. Self-awareness is the foundation of social and emotional intelligence.

The rise and ultimate success of any free society is firmly based upon civility. The absence of civility (the civility deficit) portends the absence of civilization and perhaps the end of a “free society,” as we understand them.

If we practice civility, we all win. If we don’t, we all lose!

Here is the full article:

Be Kind, Be Civil!