NFWL Civility Ambassador Program

About NFWL’s Civility Ambassador Program

More now than ever, civility is critical to improving collaboration, compromise, and productivity in legislative bodies. At NFWL events, elected women will be exposed to civility training, such as learning how to facilitate a contentious debate and team role playing. The Civility Ambassador module has become part of NFWL’s Grab ‘n Go Programming to help elected women lead civility in their state.

Engage with These Programs to Enhance Your Leadership on Civil Discourse

  1. Host a “Building Trust through Civil Discourse” workshop in your state’s legislature with NICD next session – commit to a date today!
  2. Plan a social event to engage your colleagues and constituents:
    • Living Room Conversation: The open-source format facilitates structured conversations among people of differing views and backgrounds.
    • Jefferson Dinner:  Jefferson engineered conversations at dinner that help people discover their common humanity.
    • Benjamin Franklin Circle: These circles meet regularly, using Ben Franklin’s classic 13 virtues to spark discussion about members’ goals and aspirations — who they want to be and what they want to contribute to the world. Host one today.
  3. Stay connected with the Bridge Alliance, a diverse coalition of more than 80 respected established organizations committed to revitalizing democratic practice in America.
  4. Tell NFWL about non-partisan gatherings that foster friendships regardless of party. Some states have trivia nights while others have a bipartisan choir. What works for you and your state?
  5. Invite NFWL to have a Capital Chat with you and your state’s women’s caucus.
  6. Tell us about how you’re engaging in civil discourse in your own way and share your story with our network.
  7. Help NFWL find new opportunities to engage in civility programming.

Inspiration for NFWL’s Civility Ambassador Program

NFWL committed to civility in 2017. The Bridge Alliance, NFWL, the State Legislative Leaders Foundation, and the National Institute for Civil DiscourseNext Generation co-hosted a summit on Leading with Civility. This summit identified problems and opportunities for change. Read more about the event here.

NFWL’s Pillars of Civility

  • Participating in democracy requires knowing each other. When lawmakers and their families lived in their capital, at least during sessions, they got to know each other at their children’s events, at parties, and when shopping at the same grocery store. Now that lawmakers spend much less time in the capital, we need other ways for them to rub shoulders.
    • Action Item: Schedule formal and informal events as a way to encourage friendships across the aisle is critical.
  • The tone of campaigns has an outsized impact. Lawmakers take great note of their campaign experience. If they feel it was nasty and unfair, they will ascribe those characteristics to the opposing party and treat that party accordingly in the legislature.
    • Action Item: Plan a bipartisan social or orientation event between the end of elections and the beginning of the session, as such events are critical to create positive relationships.
  • Legislative leaders are crucial. Their example, in modeling civil and collaborative behavior in their chamber, or opposing it, will have great influence. They are like the control surfaces on an airplane; the direction they go will help move the entire chamber.
    • Action Item: Lead by example. If you discipline your own members when they behave poorly and treat the other side fairly, those actions will be noticed.
  • Outside forces are constantly introducing incivility to your legislature. Constituents — both friendly and opposing — are more and more polarized in their thinking and media outlets quickly amplify events and actions. Lobbyists and special interest groups can have forceful expectations.
    • Action Item: Actively plant civility, cultivate it, and protect it.