Time for Civility
Think about your communication, your personal and business transactions in the Digital Age.
How conditioned have we become to instant gratification, immediate responses, and that nerve-racking wait as the three dots repeat and repeat until the answer comes. And, what if the dots stop and there is no response? What does it mean? Is the question or comment not worthy of response? Are we not worthy of response? If the answers to these questions is “yes” then certainly the response should be immediate – certainly not tomorrow.
Obviously, timely replies for those circumstances that need timely replies, deserve timely replies. But short of these usually rare or special circumstances, how many of our communication really warrant instant replies? And how is our communication and our skills in communicating effected, even truncated by time pressure?
In this context, civility is a casualty when time as a factor in healthy, open communication is not considered.
In fact, reflection and consideration of what someone is saying or writing are skills of what is called deep listening. These 2 skills are best served by the inner cultivation of what are called in the Buddha’s Dharma, the Six Perfections.
Generous spirit – one that exhibits openness and a willingness to share freely. This does not mean that one disregards history or goes into a situation with rose-colored glasses. Rather, one enters into an interaction with a sense of – what Freemasons would call, “being on the level.”
Kindness – you act without guile or a twist to make things go to your advantage to the disadvantage of the other simply because you want to win or be on top. You are straightforward in a way that allows for a transaction to feel two-way or serve the greatness number in the most beneficial way possible.
Patience – an understanding of the time it takes for our mind and habits to transform. How often do we see our own history repeating itself, where what we thought were habits or actions we had changed, once again emerge in a new or different circumstance? In patiently tending to our own awakening, we demonstrate a mercy towards ourselves, which will well serve us when we are trying to encourage a change of mind or action in others.
Discipline – when we know what to do and how to do it well in any given circumstance, there is less stress and more ease in what happens. Thus discipline in speech, knowing what to say, how to deliver it so that your message comes across most effectively, is a skill worth cultivating.
Stillness or Meditative Awareness invites an open and clear mind. To not have your internal dialogue chatting away while you are trying to pay attention and listen reduces the likelihood of you interrupting or adding commentary that is more about you than about the transaction you are trying to be engaged in. This requires training.
Wisdom – all the qualities mention above, practiced well over time, will yield this perfection. Such wisdom commands respect implicitly and almost naturally.
When all of these perfections are worked upon, civility becomes natural and implicit. And, to work upon these to perfect your being takes TIME.
In which case, show yourself some mercy. Be still and kind and patient with yourself. For, the most important civil dialogue you need to master is the one within your own mind.