Civility as a Tactic

January 11th 2016

Diving into a conversation that simply dumps your needs onto someone else may not be your most effective approach. Without some kind of softener like Hi, how are things going? or Is now a good time?,  you  are omitting an essential part of the equation: whether the listener wants to be engaged with you in that moment. Acknowledging what the other person wants or needs is a pretty good definition of both powerful communication and civility.

Civility is a remarkably effective communication tactic. It\'s so much more than small talk; it is a roadmap you can use to help you reach your desired destination. Without it, you might very well lose your way, because half of the conversation (your listener) might be missing. The chances of getting what you want from the conversation decrease.

On the flip side, employing civility in your conversations contributes to the possibility that you will achieve your goal, whether it’s information, affirmation, or simply a lightening of your burdens. Asking little, seemingly perfunctory opening questions — and paying attention to the answers — is essential to getting a read on the other person’s receptivity to you at that moment. 

This is civilized behavior, but it’s also tactically intelligent. If you want something from another person, even if it’s only a friendly ear, you are smart to ask small questions. By doing that, you invite the other person to be involved and you increase your chances of having a productive conversation.


communication, professional development, leadership, management


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