Civility’s Big 3

Civility’s Big 3

Civility’s Big 3

The Big 3 (fundamentals) of civility is straightforward, and perhaps that’s why it took me a while to write this post.

  1. Smile
  2. Build Relationships
  3. Listen

The fundamentals couldn’t possibly be so simple to understand given how difficult it seems for people to recognize and embrace, myself included. Then I reminded myself that simple doesn’t mean easy. Understanding a concept or the action that needs to be taken doesn’t make it easy to do. As I think about the various projects and problems I’ve dealt with in my career the easiest to accomplish were the tasks with detailed directions, defined measurable, and concrete outcomes. The hardest items to perform were unpredictable and relied more on gut feel than numbers.

While data is essential, consider when you’ve relied on your gut to point you in the right direction, and you had to try something before you had proof it worked? Athletes and inventors rely on their gut to show them the way. Steph Curry and Sidney Crosby know where to be to make the shot well ahead of other players, the Wright Brothers and Bill Gates knew they could create incredible things if they stuck to it. Practice is also critical to success whether the numbers or your gut directs your actions.

Let’s get comfortable with our gut and practice the first of the Big 3, so it becomes easier.


Smiling is good for your brain and your stress level. Smiling is contagious and benefits those around you (and benefits your success). One study reported children smile as often as 400 times a day, 30% of adults manage to smile more than 20 times a day, and 14% of adults have a hard time getting to 5 smiles a day.

Your Health

In addition to lowering your blood pressure, decreasing stress, and reducing your risk of heart attack, smiling can add years to your life. The catch to the smile is it needs to be genuine, and you and the recipient of a fake smile both know what’s going on. To find the inspiration for a genuine smile think of something you love and remember you don’t have to share what you are envisioning. If puppies, or Superman, or balloons, or ABBA make you happy think about those things before you make a phone call or go to your next meeting, or meet new people.

At Work

How does smiling help me at work? If you smile, you put people at ease and help them to relax which makes them more productive. Your smile conveys encouragement and confidence. Studies show that leaders who smile more cause their teams to be more effective and it doesn’t hurt that the leader is also seen as competent and trustworthy.

Try This

A few tips to build more smiles into your day:

  1. The 10/5 rule – when you are within 10 feet of someone make eye contact and smile. When you are within 5 feet, say hello. Also, smile.
  2. Put an image that makes you happy on the lock screen of your phone, tablet, or computer. (Please make sure it’s suitable for work)
  3. Place a bright sticky note on your phone and the doorframe of your office to remind yourself to smile when you answer a call or greet someone.
  4. If you’re feeling slightly embarrassed by your ‘happy image,’ remember you don’t have to share what is with anyone. This is something just for you.


My next post about the Big 3 of Civility is building relationships with colleagues, and we’ll build on our new fundamental of smiling.



There’s Magic In Your Smile

Mastering Civility by Christine Porath

No Comments

Post A Comment