Civility is the action of working together productively to reach a common goal, and often with beneficent purposes. Some definitions conflate civility with politeness, which suggests disengaging with others so as not to offend ("roll over and play dead"...). The notion of positively constructive civility suggests robust, even passionate, engagement framed in respect of differing views. In his call for restoring civility, Pastor Rick Warren said, "In America, we've got to learn how to disagree without demonizing each other." Pastor Warren was speaking metaphorically, but the fundamental principle he is trying to restore is the idea that people can still work together even if they do not always absolutely agree with each other's point of view.
Community, choices, conscience, character are all elements directly related to civility. Civility is more than just having manners, because it involves developing a civil attitude and civil responsibility. Civility often forms more meaningful friendships and relationships, with an underlying tone of civic duty to help more than the sum of its whole.
When people engage in conversation together with civility being a focal point of the outcome in the situation, this is commonly referred to as civil discourse. Kenneth J. Gergen, an American psychologist, suggested that the opinions of all people from all parties must be respected when in civil discourse, as "the language of dispassionate objectivity". From time immemorial, Freemasonry has promoted democratic habits of honest listening and civil discourse. The origins of the Freemasons dates back to early stonemasons fraternities, and since then has preserved an open environment to allow for a democratic process for alternative ideas.
Late Middle English: from Old French civilite, from Latin civilitas, from civilis 'relating to citizens' (see civil). In early use, the term denoted the state of being a citizen and hence good citizenship or orderly behavior. The sense 'politeness' arose in the mid-16th century.
Adolf G. Gundersen and Suzanne Goodney Lea have developed a civility model grounded in empirical data that "stresses the notion that civility is a sequence, not a single thing or set of things". The model conceives of civility as a continuum or scale consisting of increasingly demanding traits ranging from "indifference" to "commentary", "conversation", "co-exploration" and, from there, to "habituation". According to the authors, such a developmental model has several distinct advantages, not least of which is that it allows civility to be viewed as something everyone can get better at.