We can boil civility down to three key steps:
First, seeing one another for who we truly are. This takes understanding the factors that shape our identities – which include race and gender, but also things like age, physical and mental abilities, socioeconomic circumstances, and religious and cultural beliefs.
We also have to recognize the ways society has trained us, unconsciously, to think about people of certain background, beliefs or characteristics. Each person’s story is unique, and we have to get to know one another as individuals.
Next, listening to one another with the intent to understand. We should listen carefully, with the humility to know we can learn from anyone and without thinking ahead to how we’ll respond. And we should ask questions so we can dig deeper together, to learn more about one another – what we have in common and what we may not.
Finally, speaking to one another as people of equal value. Our words flow from our hearts, which are influenced by how we see and hear. Our words have the power to tear down or build up, to inspire fear or hope, to pull people apart or bring them together. We should use our words to reflect our shared humanity.