civil thanksgiving
Creating a Civil Thanksgiving
Sometimes insights from work can be helpful at home. We’re putting four expert tips for creating a compassionate workplace to the ultimate test: conversation at your Thanksgiving table.

ive years ago, then Huntsman Senior Nursing Director Sue Childress teamed up with leaders, providers, and managers to combat burnout and incivility. They created the Compassionate Workplace Committee to address these problems. Their work resulted in a process for creating a culture of civility that you can read about here.

One of our favorite researchers in the field of respect and civility is Christine Porath. As an expert in creating thriving workplaces, she has identified four steps to make civility the norm on any team:

  1. Articulate values and set expectations
  2. Define civil behaviors (and uncivil behaviors)
  3. Continue to support employee skills in listening, giving feedback, and handling hard conversations
  4. Coach employees for civility

Bringing respect and civility to the dinner table

To celebrate Thanksgiving, we've translated the wisdom of the Compassionate Workplace Committee and Christine Porath's four tips for the dinner table. Following this advice could spare you, and those you dine with, from non-food related gastroenteritis.

civil thanksgiving risk

1. Clearly convey expectations around communication standards.

Be transparent about conversation topics that aren’t tolerated at the dining table. Politics and religion are traditionally excluded; you might also table discussion about the Utah-BYU game.

2. Identify the difference between incivility and constructive criticism.

Maybe the turkey is a little on the dry side, or perhaps the mashed potatoes are too lumpy—whatever you say now won’t change that. Add extra gravy to your plate and offer to host next year.

3. Talk to your peers first.

By all means, stand up for your convictions when confronted with bigotry or Brussels sprouts. Pull a like-minded cousin or sibling into a private conversation if you need to discuss the situation further.

4. Address uncivil behavior immediately.

Don’t let a guest who insists on bringing more than pie to the dinner table ruin the evening. Empathize with her frustrations and let her know you’d prefer the argument wait for another time.

*This article originally posted November 16, 2018, and was adapted from Creating a Culture of Civility by Sue Childress, January 11, 2018 .


Isaac Holyoak

Editor-at-Large, Accelerate U of U Health; Vice President Strategic Communications, CleanSpark

Marcie Hopkins

Manager, Patient Experience, University of Utah Health

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