In the rush of our daily lives, through the advent of instantaneous communications and transport of information through quick, shortened written words, lacking of interpersonal interaction, something has been lost – civility among us!
As of December 15, 1791, “We The People” have enjoyed the right that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech … or the right of the people peaceably to assemble….” George Washington thought so highly of civility that he published “Rules of Civility” and “Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation,” in which among the 110 rules, he states in Rule No. 1: “Treat everyone with respect.” Sir Winston Churchill retorted in response to the manner in which he advised the Japanese Ambassador that England was at war with Japan “When you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite.” And, what young athlete did not hear “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game!”?
So, what happened in our society that in most daily conversations people seem incapable of tempering their perceived right to speak freely with the need to allow others to express their opinions without interruption? Who has not watched as Sunday morning news programs seem to break into a near brawl of one guest trying to out speak, or speak over, the other—neither seeming to listen to the other. But, to what end? The expression: “If you don’t have anything good to say, say nothing at all” has been tossed to the side of the road along with civility. But why or how did this happen?
Spend some time at your favorite local café and witness people coming and going. Sit there and count how many people walk in or out without a thought as to keeping the door open or allowing one person to leave or enter before another. Watch how many come and go with the door being held open for them, and you don’t hear a simple “thank you!” Think about the number of times the barista is greeted with “good morning” or the order is placed with a forgotten “please.” So too, the cashier may take your order and money, but never give any thought to a
gratuitous “thank you,” even after you drop a buck into the tip box!
So, how do we bring back to our daily lives more civility and better communication? To start, simply stop a moment before speaking, emailing, or texting and ask simply: “Who, what, where, why, when and how am I going to convey my message, such that it is the message and manner of delivery if I received it would be acceptable and worthy of my response? If not, rethink before you speak, text or email.
Law Offices of Louis J. Esbin
25129 The Old Rd, Suite 114
Stevenson Ranch, CA 91381
New Address Effective 9/1/10!