Legislative Effectiveness Committee 

December 9 - 10, 2010
Phoenix, AZ

Meeting Session:

Civility in Government:  A Workshop

Overview and Faculty:

How can increased civility in government facilitate the work legislators and staff are trying to do?  Attendees participated with experienced trainers from the Institute for Civility in Government in this hands-on session.

Presiding Officer:  Senator Richard Moore, Massachusette

Trainers:  Cassandra Dahnke and Thomas Spath, Institute for Civility in Government


The trainers described some of the breakdowns in civility in government and led participants through some one-on-one exercises designed to improve communication and understanding. The exercises also illustrated the institute’s 10 rules for reclaiming civility in the public square:

  1. Know yourself. You have to start with an awareness of your own beliefs, perceptions and prescriptions.
  2. Listen with your strength.  Listening is a high-energy exercise that requires your full attention and forus.
  3. Respect: differences are enriching. Understanding the different concepts people have about important topics helps us reexamine our own values.
  4.  Listen with your mind. Engage your mind and wrestle with what you are hearing.
  5. Help comes from the most unexpected places. The reality is that you must deal tomorrow with those you disagree with today.
  6.  Relationship is everything. It is the nature of human beings to listen more readily to those they know and trust.
  7. Listen with your heart. True listening requires you to risk taking opportunities to broaden your understanding and be open to change.
  8. Trust, trust, trust. Trust is earned over time, but lost in a heartbeat. 
  9. One is powerful. One person who sees the need for change can make a difference.
  10. Numbers count. Organizing those who value civility increases the impact of their voices.