Imagine you’ve boarded an airplane, and just before takeoff, a disturbance occurs. Crew members and customers are yelling at each other and nearly fist fighting. Passengers are being concussed and dragged from their seats with broken reading glasses sliding down their faces.

Distractions and stressful situations such as these create settings for tragic outcomes.  Knowing this, you have good reason to be alarmed. Who wants to risk flying at 35,000 feet under such conditions?

This is no imaginary flight. We’re all on the airplane of incivility today and what’s occurring on our airlines (and elsewhere) is a symptom of the larger trip we’re all on. There are many causes to this issue and we can be certain of this: When those who lead model disrespect or disdain of other passengers, it results in human ugliness. The risk to lost human potential is staggering.

We don’t have to be idle passengers. We can each lead from where we are. The future may be scary, but it’s scarier when we stop caring. Demonstrating civility means showing that we’re aware we’re not the only person on this plane, and that we’re big enough to care more for people than we do for ourselves.

Civility is the act of revealing our integrity. We need not be a passenger on this trip. We can chart a more elevated coarse. What behaviors will you model today that tell others you care?

P.S. To better understand what’s possible, and how to contribute, check out Christine Porath’s research in her wonderful book, Mastering Civility.


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