Can being too ‘civil’ get in the way of honesty?

 Mar 22, 2018 7:00 AM

We often used the term ‘civil’ in my work with leaders, and in my books, to highlight the importance of treating others with courtesy and consideration. It’s about being polite and respectful.

But is there a point where being too courteous and too polite gets in the way of being truly honest? Most of us know people who are so polite that you don’t really know if they have a hidden, underlying message or something they are not telling you.

Last week, read an interesting article: Realizing the downside of being too polite which highlighted how being too polite can be harmful rather than kind.

At the Centre for Character Leadership, we believe that it’s important to tell the truth in a kind and civil manner, but also in a way that is inclusive, respectful, and supportive:

1: Convey that you care about the person and the relationship, which is why you want to be honest. Utilize the opportunity to share your honest views, but to also make the relationship even stronger and build trust.

2: Show respect for the other person by being inclusive. Rather than simply ‘telling’ your honest view, open up a two-way discussion and invite the other person to share what they are thinking and feeling. Use questioning to help you understand the other person’s perspective.

3: Offer honest views in a manner that leads to a solution - take the time needed to work with the other person to discuss the issue fully and develop solutions. In this way, honesty will support a learning environment.

Please reach out to me or one of my associates -- Patrick McCann or Michael Chadsey -- to find out more about what we can do to help your organization instill character values and build a character culture.

We provide solutions, tools, and resources to honour your current situation, goals, timelines, and budget.

Best wishes,

Kathleen Redmond, MA, MCC


Kathleen Redmond

Kathleen Redmond is the Founder of the Centre for Character Leadership. She is certified Master Certified Coach (International Coach Federation), an author and Adjunct Professor of the University of Guelph’s MA Leadership Program.



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