The Signs of Communication

With communication today, two extremities of communication exist: self-expression and speaking with discretion. Self-expression, or speaking openly on any topic without much censorship or use of etiquette, is common by most of the population. The second, opposite extreme, is speaking with discretion and saying very little in order to preserve one’s reputation. This is more typical of professionals and anyone of class, although it may not necessarily always the case. How are either of these improving the way we communicate? How are both of these skewing the line of civilized communication?

The first extreme of communication is self-expression which has become an acceptable way to communicate today for most Americans. Unlike other countries, the United States does not have laws against hate speech. What a person says has no societal limitations in most settings. With this increase in self-expression, and decrease in societal parameters for civilized speech, the majority of the population feels they can say whatever they want—and for the most part they do. There is little thought put into what is said. Rather than considering how what is communicated might hurt or offend another, the priority is placed on voicing opinions without discretion, using uncivilized expressions, and being heard.

In the past, social standards influenced improper communication. In Roman and Greek cultures, speaking was seen as an art which had to be mastered before a person was given the right to speak on a topic. It could take years to master becoming an orator. The aspiring speaker had to first learn the art by studying the writings of philosophers, mastering grammar, and learning how to speak. In more modern times, within the United States, social standards set the acceptability of civilized speech and good etiquette. Even a minor comment could eliminate a person from social circles. Differences of opinion could certainly make for a worthy topic of discussion. However, being cordial was expected at a minimum for more vivacious discussions which could lead to arguments. It was possible for people to be accepted, although they might have differing opinions, and still be valued and respected with human dignity.

Within the last 50 years, there has been a shift to self-expression. The ability to say whatever is on a person’s mind is acceptable whether in person or online. There are hardly any limits to what a person may speak about. Open communication is seen as a way to provide transparency and the “honest story” of any person or situation. While this has many benefits, it crosses a line when dignity is stepped upon and boundaries are crossed. Consideration is necessary before speaking with regards to whom a person is talking to, if the topic is appropriate, and the choice of respectful words which are said for a pleasant conversation. Talking about anything can be very damaging. In fact, much of what people talk about has veered away from “ideas” and “intellectual topics”. Instead, what is more common is digressive speech such as gossip or speaking of topics which are inappropriate, very personal or sensitive in nature, or comments which might advertise the negative rather than focus on the positive. There is no preservation of the human dignity of a person. What needs to be said, is what is said, regardless of how it may hurt or offend the other person.

On social networks, a simple post can flare up into a war of replies within seconds. This trolling is often classified inaccurately as a “discussion” and “freedom of speech”. It would be better described as intolerance for a different view which triggers others chiming in to counter the post with an escalating degree of negativity and close-mindedness. These can occur even on simple posts that may not have any intent to attract opinions, but which result in a soapbox of negative, heated, responses. While self-expression allows for openness and problem solving, it can also open the door for adversity. Communication on digressive topics, and intentionally creating unnecessary conflict are examples of unhealthy communication. Speaking about anything without consideration of another person is rude and uncivilized.

The Power of Silence
The other extreme for communication is to choose to say very little or to remain silent. By speaking cautiously a person is more likely to preserve their good reputation. It also provides safety, by finding no partiality to any party or issue. The person remains politically correct by withholding an opinion. In many spiritual teachings, silence is perceived as golden. By remaining silent, a person can reflect wisdom. Remaining silent, a person does not reveal what they know or do not know. Likewise, by not speaking, there is less of a chance of speaking in an unintelligent manner, speaking offensively, or divulging information which should not be revealed. Remaining silent is also a way to absorb heated conflict, inappropriate speech, and to buy in time to respond with a more thoughtful response.

There is a time and a place to speak. George Washington said, “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter”.  While we should speak out rather than remain silent on situations of injustice, on political views or ways that may affect our life, saying less, rather than more can be a way which contributes to civility. Voicing an opinion without consideration, can breed hate more than solve problems. This is where uncivilized speech occurs. In today’s culture, it is more likely that the freedom of speech is taken too far through the self-expression of uncivilized conversation. Self-expression can be the ignition of unnecessary conflict just to express an opinion. When freedom of speech is taken to this extreme, responding with silence can help swing the equilibrium of communication, bringing it back to more peaceful speech and civilized communication. Knowing when to speak and when not to speak is important.

Finding the Balance with Human Dignity and Respect
Some social and professional settings still have standards for communication, although uncivilized speech is more popular. Realizing that there is a place for self-expression while maintaining a standard for civilized communication is the challenge which we face today. Many do not recognize digressive communication. Being desensitized by the current standard, hardly anyone today questions inappropriate speech which is on the tongues of most and found in media and by leaders. If culture continues to accept digressive speech, it is a reflection on our country, acceptability for digression and lack of etiquette, and is an insult to the right to the Freedom of Speech which we have. The First Amendment was created for Americans to speak up for freedom and liberties for all. With an acceptability of hate speech and speaking on digressive topics, society is infected with negativity, hate, unacceptability, intolerance for differences, immaturity, a lack of professionalism, and lack of human dignity. It shows an inability to communicate and interact with others. For a country which prides itself on being a melting pot, this is not congruent. Although not everyone will get along, there needs to be a greater degree of respect for differences whether it is race, belief, lifestyle, ability, economic or any other characteristic. Valuing differences and human life needs a higher tolerance and acceptance. Inequality will always exist, but human dignity needs to be upheld. Since the primary problem of unacceptability stems from inappropriate speech, correcting communication that is off-balance can help set society upright to a culture with a civilized standard.

Interested in Learning More?…Shop Affiliates…

Freedom of Speech: Rights and Liberties under the Law (America’s Freedoms)
by Ken I. Kersch

Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World
by Timothy Garton Ash

Free Speech and Censorship: Examining the Facts (Contemporary Debates)
by Harold L. Pohlman

Choosing Civility
by P.M. Forni

The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude
by P.M. Forni

The Case for Civility: And Why Our Future Depends on It
by Os Guinness

Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration
by Teresa M. Bejan

Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior In Company and Conversation
by George Washington and Tony Darnel

Shouting Fire: Stories From The Edge Of Free Speech
Director: Liz Garbus
Rating: NR

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Spring Into Kindness: Cross Country

Who’s in the running when it comes to top non-profit organizations in the United States? With all having different missions, there are plenty to choose from to get involved with or donate to. Tie your shoelaces and see what is available to bring kindness ‘cross the country…

With what time you have to give, there are plenty of opportunities for a person to volunteer locally within the community. Assisting with the homeowner’s association, a bake sale, helping a neighbor, joining a volunteer effort at work, an organization at church, at a local library or hospital, or being on the PTA are just a few ways to volunteer. For those who want to be part of a larger organization, there are non-profit organizations which benefit special interests such as American Heart Association, Susan G. Komen, Make-a-Wish Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, the North Texas Food Bank, Children’s Health, The Salvation Army, Dallas Life Foundation, Catholic Charities or others. In addition to volunteering in person, many of these organizations have ways a person can contribute financially or by donate to without much time commitment.

Volunteering remotely is possible working from the comfort of your home. There are organizations which recruit volunteers from around the country who can commit to a minimum amount of hours. Remote volunteering is a good match for those who want to volunteer but who need a flexible schedule. Websites such as and advertise volunteer positions for organizations which are needing help. Find your passion and make a difference! Searching based on area, interest, and talent yields many positions to choose from. There are many remote opportunities available which you can donate your time and skills to by committing just a few hours that works with your schedule and you don’t even need to leave the house.

For those who can take on more of a challenge and commitment, organizations are seeking board of directors and directors to head up their efforts. The sky is the limit. You might even be inspired to start your own non-profit. If you feel called to start a non-profit of your own, be sure to look online to learn more about how to get started. There are a number of reasons non-profits are started. Typically non-profits are established for a specific demographic with a common interest or as a response to a problem which can benefit the community. They also are formed as a way to channel positive energy and drive community awareness rather than dwell on negativity from a crisis. For charitable non-profits, a community is formed which can raise money by hosting fun events and an outlet is available for those suffering. Maybe you have a family member who has suffered from an illness. Maybe you have noticed an area which can be of benefit to others which you can reach and serve as a non-profit or 501c3 organization. It just takes one person to make a difference, and it’s likely there are others willing to help. Check it out if you are the ambitious type.

Get out your calendar if you are a socialite. The social scene with a charitable mission to it might be an incentive to have fun and donate at the same time. There are plenty of fundraising events in the Dallas area throughout the year which are fun to attend and provide an opportunity to give at the same time. Several of these are hosted by sports teams such as the Dallas Stars, the Mavericks, or the Dallas Cowboys. There are also large social parties, drawing thousands of attendees, which are held every year such as the Cattle Baron’s Ball in October at Gilley’s or the Margarita Society which hosts happy hours throughout the year, a golf tournament, and a large social event held in December which is co-hosted by Love for Kids collecting toys for children.

Other charitable events can be found by searching online or on Eventbrite. Like to run? Literally spring into kindness by racing to purchase a ticket which goes to fund a charity. There are many themed marathons in the Dallas-Fort Worth area happening each month of the year. If you enjoy food, there are several tasting events which are tantalizing ways to give to charity while entertaining your taste buds. Buy a ticket for a chef-catered formal meal, a wine tasting, BBQ, or a black-tie dinner. Maybe fashion is your show when it comes to charity. Walk the walk yourself by attending and donate there. There are even charitable events for the shopaholic. If the idea of enjoying shopping while sipping on glass of wine and eating sweet delicacies sounds like fun, there are events for those who like being catered to while see what there is to buy and take home. Shopping by bidding at an auction while enjoying a formal dinner might be a chance to find an item which is a collectable, an autographed item, or even win a unique trip package with proceeds going to charity. Simply by using your cell phone, you can search for items which are available to bid on, making the process that much easier. There are many ways to give locally or across the country. Search online and see what interests you the most and jump into making an impact!


Find a Non-Profit or Charity Organization in the Dallas area:
List of Non-Profit Organizations in Dallas

Search for Upcoming Charity Events based on Interest and Date–dallas/charity-events

Further Reading on Charity Organizations and Non-Profits

Search National Non-Profits:
National Council of Nonprofits1001 G Street NW
Suite 700 East
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 962-0322

Online Resources for those Starting a Non-Profit:
…Or visit your local library!

Organizations to Volunteer With:
Email for Clean Up Dallas with Culture and Kindness’ article on Be Thoughtful and Practice Kindness By Volunteering (July 2019) which includes a free PDF list of organizations!

Find more resources on Amazon:

Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World
1st Edition
by Robert J. Rosenthal with an introduction by Greg Baldwin 

101 Wisdom Tips for Volunteer Leaders – Kindle Edition
Patricia Naylor Thomas

The Volunteer’s Guide to Helping Teenagers in Crisis: A DVD Study

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