Etiquette Tips

A Civility Challenge

By Deborah King

Throughout 2008 the call for change was proclaimed on television, the radio, the internet, and in politics. There is no doubt that our country is hungry for change, but what type of change do we really want? The change I desire has the potential to transform the very fabric of our society.

At the close of each year, I reflect on the things that I have accomplished in my personal and professional life over the previous twelve months. This is a time for celebrating past achievements, as well as looking toward the New Year with hope, focus, and purpose. Long ago, I laid aside rarely realized resolutions in favor of a yearlong focus.

This year, my focus and desire for change is not just for me, but for our world. It is a desire to see all people embrace civility. In doing so, selfish ambition, greed, and rudeness would be set aside in favor of being kind human beings.

As a young adult, I was told that the only thing certain in life is change, and there is little doubt that we are living in a time of certain uncertainty. We can no longer conduct business as usual. The loss of homes and jobs across our nation, along with the volatility of the stock market, has left us wondering what is next. Stressful conditions such as these are breeding ground for rudeness. Consider the Wal-Mart tragedy in New York where an employee was trampled to death by those who didn’t want to miss out on a shopping bargain.

Civility deals with how we view and treat others. It requires us to look beyond our own interests and look to the interests and well being of others. Dr. P.M. Forni, author of Choosing Civility – The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct, describes civility as a code of behavior that is based on respect, restraint, and responsibility. These are values that cross all socio-economic and cultural lines. For too long, our society has laid aside personal restraint in how we choose to speak and behave. If it felt good to me, that was all that mattered. This thought process is certain to end in rude behavior that disrespects others in favor of personal good.

Daily acts of civility begin before you even get out of bed. In order to act in a civil manner, you must embrace thoughts of goodwill toward others. You must believe that your actions, no matter how small, make a difference in the world. Your life is ultimately linked with others.

A civil person enjoys many benefits. They find it easier to build relationships, enjoy greater satisfaction in the daily tasks of life, enjoy greater success in their career, and better overall health. My daughter often comments how being kind takes such little effort, and yet, makes such a big difference in making the world a better place. I could not agree more!

Let’s make 2009 a Year of Civility. Each month I will focus on a different civility issue that is practical and usable. I invite you to share with me how you see civility, or the lack thereof, being demonstrated.

I encourage you to consider our Etiquette Flash Cards they are a fabulous resource for all ages! You will learn 72 key facts that range from easy to challenging. They can be purchased at our website.

I resolve to choose civility when faced with rudeness, and celebrate civility when demonstrated.

~ Deborah King

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