An increasing number of campus conversations are centering on issues of civility. Faculty are concerned by student behavior in class and by students who get in their face. Rude comments and gossip circles concern students. Staff feel caught in the crosshairs of supervisor bashing or dealing with increasingly uncivil phone calls. In short, a growing culture of rudeness is a growing campus concern.

In his book, Choosing Civility, Dr. P.M. Forni, the cofounder of the John Hopkins Civility Project and a professor of Italian literature at the university, explores not just manners or politeness but civility. "Being civil," he writes, "means being constantly aware of others and weaving restraint, respect, and consideration into the very fabric of this awareness."

The 25 rules of considerate conduct

Dr. Forni shares the 25 rules of considerate conduct, many of which may seem like common sense yet offer a nudge for us all to be more civil beings. His rules include:

  • Pay attention
  • Acknowledge others
  • Think the best
  • Listen
  • Be inclusive
  • Speak kindly
  • Don't speak ill
  • Accept and give praise
  • Respect even a subtle "no"
  • Respect others' opinions
  • Mind your body
  • Be agreeable
  • Keep it down (and rediscover silence)
  • Respect other people's time
  • Respect other people's space
  • Apologize earnestly
  • Assert yourself
  • Avoid personal questions
  • Care for your guests
  • Be a considerate guest
  • Think twice before asking for favors
  • Refrain from idle complaints
  • Accept and give constructive criticism
  • Respect the environment and be gentle to animals
  • Don't shift responsibility and blame

As more and more campuses embark upon formal or informal civility campaigns, chances are that they'll end up becoming much nicer places to be.

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