The Civility Solution

Posted on June 25, 2012. Filed under: Nonfiction | Tags: , , , , |

The Civility Solution: What to do When People are Rude
by P.M. Forni

Rudeness, according to Forni in his book The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude, is disregard of others. It diminishes and demeans. It is a way of controlling people. Forni further categorizes it as Unfocused Rudeness, which is not targeted at anyone in particular, and Focused Rudeness, which is. Rudeness adds to stress, erodes self-esteem, poisons the workplace, and is bad for all kinds of relationships.

Forni discusses the root causes of rudeness. One root cause of rudeness, Forni believes, is individuality. Though individuality has many good qualities, it leads to rudeness when a person is not mindful of others besides themselves. Another root cause, according to Forni, is low self-esteem. People with low self-esteem will sometimes become defensive or hostile, especially if they feel threatened. Another root cause is when someone feels there has been an injustice done to them and that they are a victim – they may react by being rude. Stress is another root cause that makes people less forgiving of other people’s mistakes and flaws. Anger and fear are also root factors to rudeness.

Forni lists eight rules for a civil life:
1) slow down and be present in your life,
2) listen to the voice of empathy,
3) keep a positive attitude,
4) respect others and grant them plenty of validation,
5) disagree graciously and refrain from arguing,
6) get to know the people around you,
7) pay attention to small things, and
8) ask, don’t tell.

The author also writes about what to do if others are rude. For instance, Forni suggest that one should never respond to rudeness with rudeness; it makes it difficult to modify the other person’s behavior. He further suggests that the way to confront rudeness is to: calm yourself, don’t take it personally, inform the rude person about what is hurtful without using a “you’ statement, state the facts, inform the other person of the impact he or she has had on you, and request that the hurtful behavior not be repeated.

When dealing with work place bullying, Forni suggests that you should admit that is happening, talk about it with a co-worker, record bullying encounters, and confront the bully. If the bullying doesn’t stop, initiate internal grievance and legal action. However, for many bullied workers, the only solution is to secure a new position.

The final section of the book deals with specific rude encounters and a suggests a solution for each. For example, when someone gives you a left-handed compliment, just let it go and say ”Thank You.” If a friend hurts your feelings inadvertently,  just explain how what they said hurt you and forgive them. There is even a section on e-mail. Forni also has advise on responding to angry customers.

In closing, the author advises:
1) Don’t personalize rude behavior; even if its directed at you, it may not be about you, 2) Rude behavior has many causes,
3) respond with calmness rather than rudeness,
4) try to address the underlying causes, and
5) know when to walk away.

-posted by Kevin Purtell


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