Let’s restore courtesy and civility Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, May. 03, 2018 -- 12:00 AM

Last year, I wrote an “Editor’s View” entitled “Where have courtesy and civility gone?”

I lamented the fact that lack of courtesy seems to be escalating in our country. I mentioned the fact that people rarely opened doors for my mother-in-law who used a walker.

This still seems to happen. There are a few nice people who will hold doors for persons with canes, walkers, or wheelchairs. But many people just ignore these disabled and elderly persons and only pay attention to themselves.

Loss of civility

But even worse, I talked about how we are losing civility in our country. 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!

This situation came to the forefront again with the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Comedienne Michelle Wolf told scathing jokes about the Trump Administration, with some of the officials sitting right there (the president did not attend).

Whether you agree with the Trump Administration or not, it isn’t right — in my opinion — to denigrate people. The same is true of the president himself and those who work with him. The name-calling and vicious personal attacks should be stopped on all sides.

I believe that restoring civility might help our country move forward. It’s not just a nice thing to do. It’s a necessary thing to do. It’s a moral thing to do.

How to proceed

So what do we do to restore courtesy and civility? Of course, as I said before, 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. Parents should teach their children and other family members to treat each other with respect. This includes grandchildren.

We should also pay attention to what’s happening in our schools. I hear that bullying is going on more frequently. Is it no surprise? Children are imitating adults!

Teachers should be observing what’s going on, not only in the classroom, but in the lunch room and on the playground. They should be talking with students about the problems of bullying, and then communicating with parents about children who exhibit this behavior.

Some parents think their children can do nothing wrong, but they have to open their eyes to their children’s behavior and deal with it. Children who practice bullying can easily become abusive adults.

Civility in the workplace

The other area is the workplace. I found an article just published on April 30, 2018, by Barbara Richman, which is called “Ten Tips for Creating Respect and Civility in Your Workplace” (found on
Her suggestions include:

• Before acting, consider the impact of your words and actions on others.

• Create an inclusive work environment. Only by recognizing and respecting individual differences and qualities can your organization fully realize its potential.

• Self-monitor the respect that you display in all areas of your communications, including verbal, body language, and listening.

• Understand your triggers or “hot buttons.” Knowing what makes you angry and frustrated enables you to manage your reactions and respond in a more appropriate manner.

• Take responsibility for your actions and practice self-restraint and anger management skills in responding to potential conflicts.

• Adopt a positive and solution-driven approach in resolving conflicts.

• Rely on facts rather than assumptions. Gather relevant facts, especially before acting on  assumptions that can damage relationships.

• Include others in your focus by considering their needs and avoiding the perception that you view yourself as the “center of the universe.”

• View today’s difficult situations from a broader (big picture) and more realistic perspective by considering what they mean in the overall scheme of things.

• “Each one influence one” by becoming a bridge builder and role model for civility and respect. Act in a manner whereby you respect yourself, demonstrate respect for others, and take advantage of every opportunity to be proactive in promoting civility and respect in your workplace.

Besides practicing courtesy and civility ourselves, I think we can go a step further by calling out those who are not courteous or civil. But do so in as gentle a way as possible!