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Boundaries of civility promotion in education and leadership
  1. Maja Graso
  1. Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Maja Graso, University of Groningen Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, Groningen 9700 AB, The Netherlands; m.graso{at}

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McCullough et al 1 confront a challenge that no organisation has fully eradicated: incivility. They emphasise that civility is not merely a matter of common decency and good conduct but also a moral imperative, an aspirational value that should be promoted and modelled by all the members of the institutions and throughout all the stages of practitioners’ careers. In their fusion of ancient wisdom and philosophical classics with their own insights on contemporary workplaces, they forward a defensible case for why civility matters and is worthy of continuous contemplation.

Given the clarity and persuasion of their piece, I do not seek to challenge their claims. Instead, I will complement their argument with a perspective highlighting the difficulties of identifying low-level workplace mistreatments and responding to them impartially. While organisations should certainly not skimp on their efforts to promote civility and hold their transgressors accountable, there are nonetheless boundaries to good intentions.2 The unexamined pursuit of civility, if characterised by inconsistent definitions of harm and inappropriate allegations of uncivil acts, runs the risk of fostering its own toxicity spirals. With the hope of contributing to the exchange initiated by McCullough and colleagues, I briefly highlight …

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  • Contributors The author solely contributed to this paper.

  • Funding The author has not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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