It’s not unusual for people to have different understandings of any given concept and it’s not unusual for that understanding to change over time. Civility is definitely one of those words that I believe is in flux and transition. Based on the new technological age and other progressive movements, we are shifting our idea in society of what civility means and why it’s so important to so many. It seems so simple. Well, doesn’t it? Our grandmas and moms told us for our entire lives to say “please” and “thank you” among other important phrases. This attention to pleasantries has helped babies entering the terrible twos to move from the loudly exclaimed words like “no” and “mine” to acceptable, civil conduct in our society for centuries. For as many years as I can remember, I’ve told my sons that it was my job to raise men who were going to be productive, positive members of society. They would always shrug, but I meant every word; it begins with their conduct in social situations. I’ve been working on this process for the past 19 years and boy, it hasn’t been easy. But, I have to say that while I was working toward something positive in my children, the society that we currently live in was quietly chipping away at all the good I was trying to impart. What has happened? It wasn’t a quick switch. It snuck up on us when we were busy working, taking our kids to soccer practice and dance class, keeping our homes in order, etc. We think a lot less about how we’re interacting with people in our lives than we should. Eye contact, a smile, kind words and a hearty handshake are definitely making their way out of our day-to-day lives. This is especially interesting when we know that doing business has everything to do with relationships. Hmmm, do you see a serious disconnect happening soon? I believe that this very reason is why there is a determination that a severe course correction should occur. I agree. There are initiatives like the one that Shelley Davis Mielock is working on, Civility Counts, that helps draw specific attention to how people interact with one another. In her effort to support this initiative, she has named Bob Hoffman, the founder of the ePIFany Now project, where groups of people go out into the community and pass it forward by helping in unexpected ways, as this year’s Civility Star. If you’ve ever met Bob, you know that he is the epitome of civil — in fact, I would say he’s downright lovable. I think the fact that Bob was sincerely disappointed that as a society we need to point out civility, is a case in point situation of how much it’s an integral part of his life. It needs to be a part of all of our lives — starting with our kids. And, if you’re thinking we’re just saying you should be nice and genuine for the sake of being nice and genuine, you’re right. But, if you need another reason, let me assure you that the more civil the playground, the office and people are in general, the more productive it will make all of us, which helps business succeed and the economy move forward. Think about it, when you had a pleasant conversation, were listened to and acknowledged, how did it change your perspective in whatever you were trying to accomplish next … exactly! I challenge you to take civility seriously. The next time you’re out this lovely spring at one of the many local events in our communities, see how it makes a difference. Check out all of the places you can make a difference in our robust calendar. One of the best events of the spring is the East Lansing Art Festival happening May 21-22. What a great way to interact with artists and a diverse group of community members — so fun. I recently learned that the WKAR Radio Reading Service is so connected to doing great things for individuals in the community that they are giving out free radios to the blind at the festival. If you know someone who would qualify for this service, check out the WKAR booth on Albert Street. Applications for a WKAR Radio Reading Service receiver can be filled out at the festival and qualifying individuals will be able to take a receiver home with them. If people are interested in the service but cannot attend the festival, they should contact Brad Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org. Congratulations to Bob Hoffman on his immense efforts and love for our community. It makes me so proud, and a shout-out to our own Shelley Davis Mielock for making it her mission to help people understand why Civility Counts. Have a great Mother’s Day and spend some time outdoors. Hey, take a moment to say hello to your neighbor … why not?
Tiffany Dowling is the Founder and President of M3 Group, a full-service branding agency located in downtown Lansing, Mich. She is also owner and publisher of Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine and the Greater Lansing Business Monthly. Dowling has helped businesses and organizations with branding needs for more than a decade. Learn more at www.m3group.biz.