Choosing Civility

Garrett Peterson DNP, RN, CRNA
Civility Project
• Dr. P.M. Forni
• Johns Hopkins Professor
• Co-founder of “Johns Hopkins
Civility Project”
• Assessing the significance of
civility, manners, and
politeness in contemport
• Now called “The Civility
Initiative at Johns Hopkins”
directed by Dr. Forni
• Wrote “Choosing Civility: The
Twenty-five Rules of
Considerate Conduct” 2002
Choosing Civility
• Code of decency and behavior based on respect,
restraint, and responsibility that we call “civility”
• We are not “flawlessly civil people”
• Measuring our success in life is the way we treat
• Lessen the burden of living, refrain from adding to
• We develop thoughtfulness, foster effective selfexpression and communication
What is Civility?
•“To be fully human, we must be
able to imagine others' hurt
and relate it to the hurt we
would experience if we were in
their place” Dr. Forni
What Civility means to you?
• Respect for others
• Concern
• Consideration
• Justice
• Courtesy
• Selflessness
• Tact
• Etiquette
• Decency
• Equality
• Fairness
• Honesty
• Manners
• Trustworthiness
• Kindness
• Moderation
• Self-Control
• Listening
Respect in Action
• Respect of others can be difficult
• We can do it!!!
• Our ability to identify with others, and feel what they
• NO action of ours is with without consequences for
Happiness and the Mind
The Happiness of your life
depend upon the quality of your
- Marcus Aurelius
Civility and Self-Expression
• Restraint offers a space between intention and actions
and the opportunity to protect others from actions or
reactions that should exist only in your imagination
- Stephanie Dowrick
• Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength
- Eric Hoffer
The Science of Love and Social Support
• When you feel loved, nurtured, cared for,
supported, and intimate, you are much
more likely to be happier and healthier.
You have a much lower risk of getting sick
and, if you do, a much greater chance of
– Dean Ornish
About the RULES
• We have a choice about how we
behave, and that means we have the
choice to opt for civility and grace
- Dwight Currie
#1 Pay Attention
• When we pay attention
• We are alert to the world
• We improve the quality of our responses
• We improve the quality of our lives
• We improve the lives of those around us
#2 Acknowledge Others
• Acknowledge others existence
• Their importance to you
• Their feelings
• The things they do for you
#3 Think the BEST
• It is a decent thing to do!
• When we approach others assuming they are
good, honest, and sensitive, we often
encourage them to be just that
• If you think the best of others, it will show
them they are good human beings, interested
in pursing knowledge and willingness to work
• We might be as courteous to a man as we are to a picture, which we are willing to
give the advantage of a good light
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
#4 Listen
• Interested in their words and therefore their feelings
• We value the message and the messenger
• What prevents us from listening well?
• We are focusing on ourselves and our own needs
• This is what we do when we interrupt
• “Seize the limelight”
• Rudely pushing others off-stage
• “Disregard and proceed pattern”
Much of the conflict in our lives can be explained by one simple
but unhappy fact: we don’t really listen to each other
- Michael P. Nichols
#4 Listen
• We are ineffective when we let our past
experiences interfere with our attention
we should be giving in the present
• Three components of good listening
• Plan your listening
• Show that you are listening
• Be a cooperative listener
#5 Be Inclusive
• We want to be accepted by others
• We pleasure in the feeling of belonging to a
• Part of our identity is shaped by and within
• We find shelter, meaning and direction
• Attitudes and words that exclude rather than
include are rarely funny, most often they hurt
#5 Be Inclusive
• Reevaluate your dislikes. Are they all warranted?
• Try speaking and listening to someone you never liked
• Make an effort to spend time with someone you have always
found uninteresting
• Summarize the contents of an ongoing conversation for a
• Make a new neighbor feel welcome by just stopping by to say
• Develop an interest in cultures other than your own
#6 Speak Kindly
• Speaking with consideration and kindness is at the heart of civil
Speaking in kindness improves those around you
Speak at an unhurried pace
Speak at a moderate volume
NO matter how much you disagree, others are entitled to
sympathetic understanding
#6 Speak Kindly
• Certain profanities do offend and sometimes are painful
• Language containing curses and vulgar expression can be
perceived as distasteful, hostile and abusive
• Don’t embarrass, belittle or laugh at others
• This is demeaning and aggressive
• Bragging is a ladder to “build” oneself out of words >>>
confession to low self-esteem
• There is no such thing as bragging rights
• When we brag, we emphasize how much better than others we think we
#7 Don’t Speak Ill
• What makes us speak ill of others?
• Unsure of our own worth
• We don’t have what it takes
• Competition with others
• Easier to point out others problems
• Revenge
• Privy to unflattering secrets
• Strengthening our connection with others
#7 Don’t Speak Ill
• Why shouldn’t we speak ill of others?
• Hurts them and their reputation
• Others may follow and do the same
• Cowardly to attack those not present
• We may be judged by those listening to us
• Makes others uncomfortable or angry
• Those being disparaged could retaliate
• Could even turn violent
#7 Don’t Speak Ill
• What should we do when someone speaks ill of
• Leave
• Remain silent
• Say something positive about the victim
• Openly communicate with the attacker that you are
ill at ease i.e I am not comfortable speculating or I
am not comfortable discussing this
#8 Accept and Give Praise
• Praise to others does not come easily
• We feel we are giving up control
• When we praise others, we feel good
• We can strengthen the bond with others
• Encourages those doing great things to continue doing so
• Create awareness in those who don’t feel they have wonderful
• Nurture others self-esteem
• The U.S. Labor Department statistics show that feeling
unappreciated at work is the leading cause of leaving a job
• Willingness to praise and reward is an essential asset for
leaders at any level of any organization
#8 Accept and Give Praise
• When given a compliment…
• Acknowledge with a “thank you”
• Don’t add self-deprecating remarks
• Oh, I am not sure that I was that good
• Never solicit more praise than was given or expand
on a compliment
• I was good, wasn’t I
• If given a compliment that is not yours, give credit
where credit is due
#9 Respect Even a Subtle “No”
• Someone who turns down an invitation
• Not taking no for an answer is a bad idea and bad
• Respect the “no”
• Most basic form of respect
• Refrain from interrogation
• Asking why is intrusive and guilt-inducing
• Say…”I just want you to know that we would be
glad if you were to make it”
#9 Respect Even a Subtle “No”
• Why is it hard to take a “no” answer?
• The child in us wants his/her way
• Often a self esteem problem
• Interpreted as rejection
• Equate “no” as a threat to our self-image
#10 Respect Others Opinions
• Respecting opinions of others leads to respect
of the whole person
• Requires:
• Self-esteem, self-control, sensitivity, tolerance,
fairness and generosity
• Two ways of showing disrespect for others
• Telling them their opinions are crazy
• Assuming what we think is what they think
#10 Respect Others Opinions
• Protocols of qualified disagreement
• “Yes, I agree that what you say may be true, but
there are circumstances when…”
• “Indeed, that idea can be appealing; however…”
• “I don’t know, it doesn’t seem right, but perhaps
there is more here than meets the eye”
• “Yes, but if you look at it from a different point of
#10 Respect Others Opinions
• If the opinion is offensive
• Reject it outright
• “I’m sorry, I believe this is wrong”
• “I disagree and find this opinion offensive”
• “You know, this really goes against my principles”
• If someone dismisses our opinion
• It is just plain “Rude”
• Make room for disagreement
• Invite feedback
• We may learn something if we just listen to opposing views
#11 Mind Your Body
• Shows respect to ourselves and others
• We can offend others with our bodies
• How we look, smell, and what we do with them
• Civility of body management
• Begins with basic grooming habits
• Validates who we are
• Appear our best on the stage of life
• We often feel a sense of physical/psychological well-
#11 Mind Your Body
• Essentials to good grooming
• Clean, odor free body
• Washed hair, clean finger/toe nails
• Well applied makeup, clean teeth and fresh breath
• Think of those around you
• Public places
• Long day at work
• Visiting your doctor
#12 Be Agreeable
• Make an effort to complement our plans with
those around us
• Agree once in awhile – doesn’t make you an
agreeable person
• Cultivate agreeability
• Consider you may be wrong
• Admit you don’t know
#12 Be Agreeable
• Listen to learn – rather than react
• Less likely to attack the other person
• Look for possibilities of agreement
• You don’t have to agree with everything !!
• Expressing your differences
• Needed to strengthen our identities and show
• Sometimes we need to do this
• Most of the time, we don’t
#13 Keep It Down (Rediscover Silence)
• Noise
• Most frustrating source of annoyance
• Management of noise is a must
• People don’t seem to see that it is a problem
• Turn off cell phone: meetings, churches, libraries,
theaters, restaurants
• If you intervene, take a deep breath and remain clearheaded
• Sometimes we need noise but it can make it difficult
to think during times when performance is crucial
#14 Respect Other People’s Time
• Other peoples time is valuable
• Punctuality is nonnegotiable
• Arriving on time is considerate behavior
• If you will be more than 5 minutes late: Call
• Don’t cancel appointments at the last minute
• Every appointment is a commitment
• Keep phone call short if you sense the other person is
• If you expect a lengthy call, ask if it is a good time to talk
#14 Respect Other People’s Time
• Call waiting
• Use infrequently or with an emergency
• Return to current caller quickly and apologize
• Respect deadlines at work
• Don’t hold your friends hostage
• Get their reaction or advice then move on
• Don’t cut meetings short because it is
convenient for you
• Schedule meetings when you know you will be free
#15 Respect Others People’s Space
• Stand at an appropriate distance from others
so that they won’t feel uncomfortable or
• Pay attention to others’ reactions during
• Keep physical contact at work to a minimum
• Respect people’s “territory”
#16 Apologize Earnestly
• When we apologize, we acknowledge that we did
something wrong and work at repairing the
• Apologies should be thoughtfully conceived,
clearly stated and heartfelt.
• We often see pseudo-apologies.
• “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but I am under a lot of stress
these days”
• Expressions like “I know how you feel”, “I’m sorry you
feel that way” are another form of pseudo-apologies.
#17 Assert Yourself
• Assertiveness is part of a quiet but powerful
interactive skill of civility
• At times, we find that we are unable to willing
to express it
• Example: Being invited to an event that we really
don’t want to attend
• We feel guilty if we reject others
• They might not like us anymore
• When we don’t assert ourselves, it adds to needless
frustration in our lives
#17 Assert Yourself
• Saying “NO” to something is saying “YES” to
• We are entitled to choose saying no
• Allows control over our time and energy
• It isn’t taking away something from others but
keeping something that is ours
• Saying a firm, solid YES or a powerful NO, we
experience elation
#17 Assert Yourself
• Arguments with friends, spouse etc
• Take some time to really think how you want to respond if
given a halfhearted apology
• Sometimes you will be bullied to “let it go” or that “it isn’t
that big of a deal”
• 3 elements of assertiveness
• 1. State the description of the behavior you find
• 2. The disclosure of the feelings stirred in you by the
• 3. Naming of the behavior’s effect
#17 Assert Yourself
• Nonassertive behavior is a health risk
• Research has documents that self-neglect and overcompliance can
compromise the functioning of the immune system
• What about being told that you blow things out of proportion
or to “lighten up” or “chill out”?
• Here is how Dr. Forni would respond
• “”No, I am not going to chill out, and I’m telling you why. By telling me to
chill out, you are saying that I’m overreacting, which is like saying that I
shouldn’t feel the way I feel. I hope you’ll allow me to have my feelings
and to express them the way I choose. Since I happen to feel strongly
about this issue, there is no reason I should look the other way. I suggest
that instead of making me feel bad about my reaction, you come to
terms with the seriousness of your actions”
#18 Avoid Personal Questions
• Getting into others peoples business
• Most curiosities have to do with religion, politics,
money, personal relationships, health, and physical
• Questions that some people may perceive as
• Do you believe in God? Do you go to church? Is your child
• Are you liberal, conservative, who did you vote for?
• How much do you make? How much did it cost? What is your
net worth?
#18 Avoid Personal Questions
• How old are you? Are you married? Are you pregnant?
Did you have an affair?
• What are you seeing the doctor for? What kind of
surgery did you have? Why are you so pale? Etc etc
• How do you respond? With civility of course
• I don’t feel comfortable talking about this
• Now is not the right time to discuss this
• Let’s not talk about money, if you don’t mind
• I prefer not to discuss personal matters
• I’m sorry, but I don’t see why you need to know
#19 Care for Your Guests
• Strive to make your guest have the best and most
comfortable time when staying with you
• Guests shouldn’t feel that they have to earn your hospitality
• Dinner guest are under no obligation to help in the kitchen
either before or after a meal
• What about guest that stay a week or more?
• You can expect some help from them
• If you let them help, they will feel more at home and not
imposing on you
#19 Care for Your Guests
• But make time for yourself!
• You don’t have to be entertaining them every
• Feel free to claim time for yourself
• Sometimes you need a break from being the host,
allowing you to recharge
#20 Be a Considerate Guest
• Arrive and leave on time
• Don’t overstay your welcome
• Don’t bring surprise guests
• Don’t bring children if not invited
• NEVER assume that Fido or Boots are welcome
• Allergies
• Damage to the house
#20 Be a Considerate Guest
• Respect your friends house
• Don’t move furniture around
• Make your bed each morning
• Don’t linger in the bathroom if it is shared and leave it clean
and tidy
• Keep TV or music volume low
• Don’t wander through the house
• Curiosity is not a good reason to appear uninvited in your
hosts’ bedrooms, study, basement, or attic. OFF LIMITS!!
#21 Think Twice Before Asking for Favors
• Asking for favors can be an imposition
• Always try to be the solver of our own
• Keep requests reasonable
• The system of favors works until someone ends
up doing most of the asking and someone else
most of the granting
• Refraining from favors is difficult, but not as
difficult as saying “No, thank you”
#21 Think Twice Before Asking for Favors
• What about friends and favors?
• Occasional exchange of favors occurs in any
• Friendship is about how one fells with
friends, not about what on can get from them
• No real friendship is based on the expectation
that our friends be providers of favors
#21 Think Twice Before Asking for Favors
• Questions to ponder before asking for favors
• Do I need to ask for this favor or am I looking for an
easy solution
• Is what I’m asking for ethical and legal
• Is it fair and reasonable to ask this of this person?
Would I be comfortable granting this favor?
• Who else, other than me, is this going to effect?
• If I grant this favor, how is this going to affect my
relationship with this person
• What if I am denied the favor?
#22 Refrain from Idle Complaints
• Some complaints are warranted
• Incompetent salesclerk, hostile cabdriver, disruptive child,
unreasonable boss etc
• One complains in these situations to address the current problem,
but also to help those deal with the problem maker in the future
• Continuous or recurrent complaining is unwarranted spreading of misery
It shows helplessness rather than assertiveness
It is more interested in assigning blame than in finding solutions
Rooted in the feeling that life is unfair
Complaining projects our own dissatisfaction with how we are
handling our own lives
• This causes us to avoid recognition of our weaknesses and
mistakes and while missing the chance to bring about positive
change to our lives
#22 Refrain from Idle Complaints
• Idle complaining
• the focus is on the problems rather than solution
• Leads to a pessimistic outlook on life
• It spreads pessimism to others
• There are definitely problems in the world but there
are also many solutions!!
• Think about your recurring complaints
• Work to eliminate them by refocusing on problem solving
• It will take time but you can do it
#23 Accept and Give
Constructive Criticism
• Giving constructive criticism when
circumstances suggest is the right thing to
• Intent is to help with a problem!!
• Not to humiliate, manipulate, or get revenge
#23 Accept and Give
Constructive Criticism
• Effective criticism
• Identify an issue rather than launching an attack
• Point out specific incident
• Describe what you have observed rather than
uttering accusations or engage in name calling
• Show that you understand how the other person
may feel
• Suggest a solution if the time is right
• Remain calm, kind, and empathetic
#23 Accept and Give
Constructive Criticism
• Receiving Criticism
• Not all criticism is good, but it is not all bad
• If we reject it, we miss out on a source of knowledge and wisdom
• Be open minded
• If you are too busy building defenses, you will not be able to listen
• Ask is this criticism valid?
• Don’t argue, rather start thinking of the changes that you will make
• Thank them for their honest opinion
• Criticism makes us learn what we are unable or unwilling to learn by
#24 Respect the Environment and Be Gentle
to Animals
• Environment
• Don’t litter
• Don’t use products that are harmful to the
• Recycle!!!
• Purchase recycled products
• Conserve water, electricity, and fuel
#24 Respect the Environment and Be Gentle
to Animals
• Animals (how we treat animals is a measure of
our character)
• Never neglect animals. Never use brutal force
• If you are not prepared to care for an animal 365
days a year……DON’T GET ONE!!
• Don’t give or accept animals as gifts unthinkingly
• Abandoning a family animal is NEVER an option
• Keep your animals safe
• Be kind to your animals
#25 Don’t Shift Responsibility and Blame
• People will try to minimize his or her responsibility by blaming
someone else
• Often the wrong party
• We blame family, friends, co-workers, spouses and strangers.
We blame inanimate objects, God, nature and government.
Parents blame educators. Educators blame parents.
• As long as we can adequately shift responsibility we can avoid
being accountable. However, shifting blame hinders
relationships, focuses our lives on negativity and stunts our
personal growth.
#25 Don’t Shift Responsibility and Blame
• You are accountable for your actions and your
responses to other people’s action. When you
fully appreciate that you will stop blaming
• “When you can stop placing blame on others you will be on
your way to improved psychological, physical and emotional
health and well-being.” He says the first step is to take personal
responsibility for your life and your decisions and appreciate
the fact that you are in control of your destiny.
- Dr. Neil Farber