Using Civility in the Form of Mindful Speech and Action to Cultivate Empathy among Library Employees

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This chapter investigates ways in which civility and mindful speech within the library workplace can improve the quality of employees’ interactions with each other. While most examinations of communication within libraries focus on the exchange between patrons and providers, this case study focuses on the vehicle of communication among co-workers and examines how civil discourse coupled with mindful speech reinforced by mindful actions can foster an atmosphere of cooperation, leading ultimately to empathy. We highlight common points within national and local civility initiatives which allow institutions to preserve their own unique culture while adhering to accepted benchmarks of civil dialogue. Although we present a mix of suggested strategies for cultivating mindful words and actions, based on empirical research limited to our own institution, we recommend civility and mindful speech leading to mindful action as gateways toward the adaptation of healthy shared values. Emphasizing civility, one of the cornerstones of civilization and peaceful coexistence, has widespread practical and social implications for countering the detrimental effects of poor communication. This effective, affordable, and attainable practice can repair the underdeveloped, fractured, and even dysfunctional relationships which lead to low workplace morale.