noun  formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech.

“Just as The Road Less Traveled provided hope and guidance for individuals seeking growth, this major new work by M. Scott Peck, M.D., offers a needed prescription for our deeply ailing society. Our illness is Incivility—morally destructive patterns of self-absorption, callousness, manipulativeness, and materialism so ingrained in our routine behavior that we do not even recognize them.” –Amazon.com

This sad state of affairs is readily evident in our everyday lives. All one has to do is follow the candidates in the U.S. presidential race, or watch “news” programs where so-called experts yell and interrupt each other rather than listen to one another’s point of view. Or, witness the behaviors of politicians, star athletes, and other people of privilege who seem to think the rules that apply to others don’t apply to them.

There may be a solution to our problem of uncivility in this simple suggestion, take care of your own backyard. Not unlike what my friend, Kurt Pidduck, would say about the importance of doing the small things each day (“Watch your pennies and the dollars will come”) it’s the little things that count. It’s not just the big ideas from our leaders and the actions of the powerful and important people, it’s our daily habits that can make a real difference in the long run.

Frank is an upbeat fellow I see at the gym every day. Recently I asked him to share the secret of his positive attitude. He explained that many years ago his father taught him the value of one simple act of civility: do something nice for someone else every day.

By the nature of living in a large city, I usually don’t personally know the people I pass by as I walk in my neighborhood. However, I’m heartened by the reaction I get to a simple (and I hope civil) greeting of “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon” both to people I recognize and to those I’ve never seen before. Even when I greet passersby who aren’t making eye contact while walking down the sidewalk, my wishes are usually returned (9 times out of 10) and often with a smile, and sometimes with a look of pleasant surprise. It’s just a little thing, but it makes me feel that people like being nice.

In the men’s room of a large insurance company client, I noticed a gentleman wiping down the sink with his paper towels after he dried his hands. I thanked him for doing it and he replied, “I always try to leave a place a little nicer than the way I found it.”

Have you picked up a used paper coffee cup that someone carelessly tossed on the sidewalk lately? Or, said hello and asked permission to scratch the ears of a dog on leash? Helped someone unload groceries? It’s the little things…a matter of səˈvilədē.



PS If you or any of your colleagues would like to learn more about how to increase productivity by improving communication within your team, focusing the culture of your workforce around a set of core values, or how to implement fundamental, effective, and practical management techniques, contact me at (858) 395-2850 or ken@kenmajer.com for a no-cost, no-obligation personal consultation.