A powerhouse principle of civility is tolerance, the attitude of acknowledgement and acceptance of people whose opinions, practices, religion, nationality, etc., may differ from your own.
Tolerance involves the recognition that just as you want to be treated decently, others also want the same treatment.
Etiquette plays an important role in promoting tolerance. It can only be practiced by individuals, but collectively, it is a civilizing force. This means every one of us contributes to the level of tolerance – and civility – in society. And without it, society suffers.
Tolerance does not require that you give up your own values and beliefs. In fact, it asks that your values and beliefs be endured by others just as you endure theirs.
However, this endurance is practiced under the assumption that no one is being hurt and no laws are being broken.
Conversations about your differences of opinion are carried through with civility and acceptance. Endurance and acceptance do not lead to arguments. In other words, you agree to disagree.
Placing our personal rules and values on other people who don’t share them easily leads to discord. Using etiquette to check in with yourself can help you overcome expectations that will never be met in these situations.
Some personal practices that hone your skills in being tolerant and coping with the disagreeable are:
When you stand in tolerance, you are loosened from prejudice and other forms of incivility. Instead, you mindfully choose actions regarded as recognizably respectful by others:
When you apply your good manners through acts of etiquette, the message you send is inclusionary, rather than exclusionary. With etiquette, the “us-versus-them” divisions are lessened.
How do you know how tolerant you are? By asking yourself this question: if you disagree with someone’s point of view, could you still be civil toward them?
In other words, would you:
No one is perfect and we all have our prejudices. But to create a civil society, attention must be paid to tolerating individual differences. Fortunately, etiquette can help us do this.