Monthly Blog - January 2019

Incivility in America has Reached a Critical Mass

Ready, Set... Time to Say Please and Thank You Again.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was a much-loved first lady. In 1960, she made a statement that still resonates today: “We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together. And, if we are going to live together, we will have to talk.”

May we talk?

In politics, the major parties are at loggerheads with one another, spewing out hatred when someone disagrees with them. Families are strained, and in some cases, torn apart, because of differences in politics. Name-calling, a casual acquaintance with the truth and even violence has threatened our nation’s well-being.

In everyday actions, too many times, incivility has taken over for common courtesy. We may snap at the clerk or be rude to a waitress…sometimes without even realizing it until it’s too late.

In a 2018 national civility study, Weber Shandwick reported: 93% percent of Americans say civility is a problem in society, with most (69%) classifying it as a major problem.

The research also suggests that civility is an organizational value, with leadership more likely to be perceived as civil in civil workplaces feeling safer reporting uncivil conduct. In uncivil workplaces, employees are more likely to distrust management to handle complaints about incivility.

Diversity and inclusion are closely linked to civility in the workplace. Those in uncivil workplaces are twice as likely to characterize their employers as weak on diversity and inclusion.

Incivility too often dominates the news cycles:

  • A record high 69% believe we have a major civility problem.
  • 75% feel incivility is a crisis.
  • 79% report the 2016 U.S. presidential election was uncivil.
  • 86% believe political incivility affects our reputation.
  • 97% say it is important for the president to be civil.

Too many times:

  • Rudeness and hostility derail communication, collaboration and compromise
  • Entertainment shows are mistaken for fact-based truth
  • We tend to only listen to those with whom we agree, rather than embracing different ideas
  • Extremes on either end of the human spectrum upend our communities through activities that are an attack on our moral and ethical fibers of humanity
  • The general public is frustrated and angry at our leaders’ ability to confront our most pressing problems

Incivility is more than a perception. 84% of Americans have at one time or another experienced incivility in a wide variety of places and settings, most typically while shopping (39%), driving (39%) or while on social media (38%). Online interactions slightly edge out in-person interactions. More troubling, the frequency of uncivil encounters has risen dramatically since 2016.

Americans have not lost sight of the fact that civility provides substantial advantages to society, including:

  • Building national pride
  • Easing tension and conflict

Despite the high incidence of incivility, hope remains for restoring civility to our nation. The majority of Americans (71%) are at least somewhat hopeful for a more civil future, and 81% believe that highly controversial subjects can indeed be discussed in a civil way.

The workplace can be a Civility Safety Zone.


Consider one of the following training programs from Etiquette Iowa:

  • Choose Civility: 12 Rules for Considerate Conduct (Behaving Well in Today’s World)
  • Build a Longer Table: 5,4,3,2,1: Earning Trust, Respect & Inclusion
  • Ten Best Practices for Business Networking
  • 15 Business Etiquette Rules Every Professional Needs to Know
  • Put Your Best Foot Forward: How Good Manners Enhance Your Professional Life
  • Dining Etiquette

Civility in the workplace offers a ray of hope for this perplexing social issue of incivility.

We are here to help. Contact us today.




Remember: Share your goodness, far and wide, as much as you can, with as many people as you can, for as long as you can, with as much respect as you can.

Ready, Set…Time to Say Please and Thank You again.