Where have courtesy and civility gone? Print
Thursday, Nov. 09, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

In the later years of her life, my mother-in-law used a walker. Of course, it slowed down her pace and also made it difficult for her to open doors unless they had a handicapped door opener.

When I was with her, I could help her navigate doors. Sometimes she got ahead of me, so I wasn’t there when she reached the door.

I was unpleasantly surprised when other people would just walk through the door without offering to help her. She said this was a common occurrence.

Lack of courtesy

This lack of courtesy is something that seems to be escalating in our country. People seem to think only about themselves.

I have to admit that there are a few nice people out there who consider other people, but the number of them seems to be dwindling.

We don’t hear “please” and “thank you” as often anymore either. Where has the courtesy gone?

Losing civility

Besides courtesy, we also seem to be losing civility. People who disagree with each other are often nasty. They treat people who have different opinions with scorn and derision.

People don’t want to listen to those on the other side of the political spectrum, for example. There may be some common ground, but they don’t want to find it!

What can we do?

What do we do to restore courtesy and civility? Of course, it begins with each one of us. We should pay attention to our own behaviors and interactions with others.

I would suggest that it starts in the home as well. Parents should teach their children and other family members to treat each other with respect. This includes grandchildren.

But we could also think about courtesy and civility in the workplace. I found an article on the website of the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., which discusses just such a topic.

It says, “When almost every task is deemed urgent, past the deadline, or a mandate from management, courtesy is often the first casualty. One study found that 60 percent of employees believe that co-workers’ annoying behaviors negatively impact the workplace and, as a result, 40 percent reported that they are looking for new employment.”

Civility in the workplace

How can we restore civility in the workplace? Here are some suggestions from the Rose-Hulman Institute:

• Start with yourself. Be part of the solution.

• Say what you mean, and mean what you say. There’s no substitute for authentic communication.

• Take responsibility for your choices and actions.

• When things go wrong, resist the urge to assign blame. It’s the system that usually fails, so fix the system, not the people.

• Greet everyone with “hello” and a smile.

• Respect co-workers’ time and need for privacy.

• Say please, thank you, and/or I am sorry.

• Communicate in a professional and courteous manner in all forms and at all times.

There are many more suggestions at

I encourage everyone to help recover courtesy and civility. If each of us does something, it may radiate out into our society as a whole. Thank you!