Setting the Table for Civility

National Institute for Civil Discourse is inviting people from all over the country to take part in NICD's Initiative to Revive Civility and help "Set the Table for Civility." NICD and more than 80 national and local partner organizations are urging Americans to make a special effort when you gather with friends and family and take some time to:

  1. Pause and reflect on the need to heal the divisions in our country; and
  2. Take some action to help increase civility and respect between our fellow citizens.

NICD has created materials to focus on three basic questions that Americans are invited to discuss:

  • What are you most thankful for about living in America?
  • How do you feel about the deep divisions and incivility we see now in our country?
  • What can we do to revive civility and respect and find more effective ways to work together?

A particular goal will be to get Americans of different points of view to talk together and, most importantly, listen to each other.  These discussions can take place as people gather over meals or at events created to promote civility over the holidays. People can engage either in pairs, in small groups of friends, within families or in organizations or institutions.  Most discussions will probably be about half an hour in length although some may be slightly longer or shorter.

In addition to the Discussion Guides, NICD is suggesting several activities that are easy for individuals and groups to do during holiday times. 

Suggested Activities For: 

Tips and Tools

​To help create the environment where people can engage fully and well when entering conversations where there is disagreement, we’ve created these tools and tips to assist:

  • Setting the Table for Civility Discussion Guide - Here is a suggested format that starts with personal sharing and includes some additional questions for related to the three primary questions to help you dig deeper into these areas.
  • Sample Invitation Language – Set a welcoming and inviting expectation so people know you want to engage in a respectful conversation across our differences as we gather for holidays.

  • Tips to Avoid the Food Fight  – With a comfortable space, clear intentions and genuine listening at the core, we can have respectful conversations across our differences.

  • Three Questions Table Card – A particular goal will be to get Americans of different points of view to talk together and, most importantly, listen to each other.  Members of Congress from across the aisle and civic/faith leaders shared their reflections  on these three questions.  These discussions can take place as people gather over meals or at events created to promote civility over the holidays. People can engage either in pairs, in small groups of friends, within families or in organizations or institutions. 

  • Sample Agreement - When discussing a topic when there are different opinions, it is recommended to have people agree to guidelines before the conversation begins. Here are some suggested agreements about respectful participation and active listening.

  • Tips for Managing Stress During Difficult Conversations

  • 20 Questions Game - This fun and interactive game is for family and friends to learn more about each other while answering questions touching upon civil discourse and different aspects of respect and civility.  Start with these instructions and print the cards with questions.

  • Tips for Fostering Civility on Social Media share these tips with friends on social media