Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010
Let’s mind our manners to combat rudeness in society

It’s a simple enough word, with a simple enough definition: In Webster’s words, courtesy and politeness. We call it good manners. And it’s an important enough word, for an important enough reason: Where it exists, people get along, communities come together, and good things happen.
So, if it’s so simple and so important, then why is civility in such seemingly short supply? How did we get to be where we are, living in a society and culture that is slip-sliding its way ever deeper into coarseness and incivility?
And, most important, is there anything we can do to regain a sense of individual and collective civility?
Stanislaus County Schools Superintendent Tom Changnon thinks there is. He recently kicked off a “Choose Civility” campaign that he hopes will be adopted not only by every school in the county but by every person who lives, works or plays here. If that happens, he believes, we’ll all be better off.
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The 25 rules of civility, according to P.M. Forni, co-founder of the Johns Hopkins Civility Project. The 12 traits chosen for the Stanislaus County Department of Education’s civility project are in bold-faced type.
1. Pay attention.
2. Acknowledge others.
3. Think the best.
4. Listen.
5. Be inclusive.
6. Speak kindly.
7. Don’t speak ill.
8. Accept and give praise.
9. Respect even a subtle “no.”
10. Respect others’ opinions.
11. Mind your body.
12. Be agreeable.
13. Keep it down — and rediscover silence.
14. Respect other people’s time.
15. Respect other people’s space.
16. Apologize earnestly.
17. Assert yourself.
18. Avoid personal questions.
19. Care for your guests.
20. Be a considerate guest.
21. Think twice before asking for favors.
22. Refrain from idle complaints.
23. Accept and give constructive criticism.
24. Respect the environment and be kind to animals.
25. Don’t shift responsibility and blame.
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