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The lost art of civility

ci·vil·i·ty: (N. courtesy, graciousness, polite, respectful; the way to change the world for the better in 5 minutes.

Some days I fear that courtesy and civility are dead. I was at a student group meeting last week and felt like I was actually attending its funeral. Folks were so rude to each other and to the speaker. I was about to lose my proverbial cool. Instead I bit my tongue and tried to change the tone of the event through the practice of civility and respect.

Reduced to the least common denominator, each of us hopes to SURVIVE. Instead, I want to propose more of a THRIVING approach to life. More of a return to a better understanding of a caring community – one with more civility and respect. I yearn for a return to politeness, courtesy and graciousness among our circles of friends, colleagues, and organization members. I hope and work for a world where each individual is heard, where there is always toilet paper in the stall, and where people who pass by in airports say “Hello! Have a nice day!“ rather than grumble into their cell phones about a plane’s arrival 3 minutes late.

Thinking more, I wanted to share a few keys to civility to help your day be a little better. I know if we band together and spread the word, we will surely make our world a better and more civil place to thrive! Try a few today!

1. SMILE – It doesn’t cost a thing, makes a world of difference for so many others, makes people wonder what you are up to, and makes your dentist so proud!

2) LISTEN – Nanna told me I have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Really listen, not fake it while you think of something else witty to say or write your grocery list in your mind. Using your ears twice as much is good common sense, brings real value to others, and might help us learn something!

3) Follow the PLATINUM RULE – “Treat others the way they want to be treated.” Thanks to my advisor, Dr. David W.W. Jones for living and sharing this one daily.

4) REPLACE THE TOILET PAPER and “Leave the woodpile higher” – Take that extra little step that makes the world better for the next guy! You’ve been there – when the person before you took the last piece or someone left you just a trickle of milk in the carton so they would not be the one to finish it off and have to be responsible for tossing the carton. Sheesh. A little civility and caring – a little respect – goes a long way.

5) STOP rude, aggressive or simply BAD BEHAVIOR – Moving past the BYSTANDER role is a big step to changing the world. Imagine if someone would have done that for you in one of those times you felt “beaten down” or disrespected. Saying “That’s just not cool!”
can do wonders for the tone and environment of civility and respect for so many others.

Please consider just doing your part and then do just a little more to make the world a better place. Angels may dance, babies might stop crying, Pharrell Williams will sing, and I for one will thank you profusely! Tweet me at @MindyBKD and let me know what you are doing to promote civility in your world today!

Credit // Author: Mindy Sopher


Few speakers bring more heart to their fraternity and sorority keynotes than Mindy Sopher. Learn more about Mindy and her keynotes at campuspeak.com/sopher. You can also follow her on Twitter at @MindyBKD.