Over the past few years I have developed what I refer to as the Six Pillars of Civility. Over the next few months I am going to explore these six qualities, which in my opinion, are crucial to maintaining a civilized society. The qualities are important not only to a society, but also to the communities in which we live, work, and play. I hope these words will give you pause to think about how each of these qualities resonates with you.


Awareness is a sense of knowing how we affect the people with whom we connect, and how they impact our lives. Too often we glide through life, whether at home or at work, with no real sense of what’s happening. Sometimes we are oblivious because we are so wrapped up in our own personal lives that we don’t actually care about other people. If this happens in the workplace, the isolation that ensues can bring progress to a screeching halt. It can also impede one’s ability to succeed in one’s career.

Awareness brings to mind two familiar phrases. One is ‘deer in headlights’. The other is ‘smell the roses’. How often are we caught unaware; and how many times do we feel life is rushing by us too quickly to stop and really enjoy what we are doing, and with whom we are doing it – even if it is ourselves? Slowing down to allow the blur of life to come into focus actually helps us to achieve more of our goals, whatever they may be.

Taking the time to assess what we are doing, what our real intentions are for doing it, and how this all impacts those around us is part of what makes up a true leader. Awareness leads to respectful interactions with everyone we work with. This dynamic is essential to maintaining a healthy productive work environment, which in turn leads to profitability. Retaining the best talent within any organization requires awareness, respectful communication, and compassion.

How aware are you of the impact you have on your colleagues? What better time of year than the holidays to take a step back and examine this powerful dynamic? If you want to improve the climate in the office and the profitability of your company, raise your level of awareness.