Door County Civility Project: The Sixth Tool of Civility: Be Agreeable

Seek and find common ground, always


Much of the communication we hear in today’s world is either/or, with no in between. There is Republican/Democrat, liberal/conservative, North/South, democracy/socialism, rich/poor, male/female, Packers/Bears – take your pick.

Rationally, this leads us to believe that one is right and the other is wrong. And emotionally, this leaves us with many negative feelings. 

The first is fear. Are we making the right choice? What will happen if we do not choose the side that has the power? 

Anger comes next. Wanting to be right, we want everyone to be on our side. Consequently, we may become willing to do anything to have it our way.

When nothing gets done following the fear and anger, we become dissatisfied. Governments, institutions and individuals then cast blame on each other and are sometimes even violent.

The sixth tool of civility is Be Agreeable. This reminds us that each issue and problem has many aspects and options to consider before a solution can be found. Rather than beginning the discussion with your opinion of what to do, start by looking fully at the issue with others to identify common ground – the aspects that you all agree on. 

Now you’ve created an environment in which everyone is on the same page to have an amiable, amicable discussion rather than an adversarial one. All are open to hear the various options and consider them. Discussion can follow to weigh the pros and cons for every suggestion. And finally, a decision can be made that will benefit all. 

This is often called a compromise. Fear, anger and dissatisfaction are eliminated, and peace and satisfaction result. Being agreeable creates a civil environment in which to seek an agreeable outcome.

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