“Civility means a great deal more than just being nice to one another. It is complex and encompasses learning how to connect successfully and live well with others, developing thoughtfulness and fostering effective self-expression and communications. Civility includes courtesy, politeness, mutual respect, fairness, good manners, as well as a matter of good health. Taking an active interest in the well-being of our community and concern for the health of our society is also involved in civility.” — Dr. P.M Forni, author of Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct. I am a huge fan of civility — it’s incredibly important in all aspects of our daily lives, and I am passionate about raising our community’s awareness of this topic. Civility seems to be a buzzword these days, and there have been calls for more of it in our government, at schools, in business and neighborhoods. May is designated as International Civility Awareness Month, an initiative championed by the Association of Image Consultants International (AICI) under the guidance of Dr. Forni. As a member of this professional organization, I am proud to do what I can to promote a positive epidemic of civility. I believe that relationships are truly what life is about, yet the simple niceties that make interactions pleasurable oftentimes fall by the wayside. Our lives move at such a quick pace that many of us don’t feel like we have time to honor ourselves, much less others. There are many places to lay blame: technology, over-commitment, commuting, working from home, dress codes, the economy … the list goes on and on. No matter what the “why” is that may lead you to occasionally let other things come ahead of meaningful human connections, with a little effort you can spread the positive epidemic of civility one interaction at a time. Each Day is a Gift Every day provides you with an opportunity to expand your breadth of knowledge, meet someone new, bring joy to another and feel good about your contribution to the betterment of the world. A simple smile may be just the thing a weary person needs to be reminded of the interconnectedness and beauty of humanity. You could also join with others at one of Bob Hoffman’s (the 2011 Mid-Michigan Civility Star recipient: See more on page 20) ePIFany.NOW events and Pass It Forward to make our community a better place. The sky is the limit and the opportunities are abundant. Treat each day as the gift it is and aim to feel like you did your best to deserve experiencing it. Stand Up to Incivility With the relative anonymity that we live in today, it has become increasingly acceptable to turn away from incivility when we witness it. There was a time when people behaved themselves in public in part for fear of being reprimanded or ostracized by others. I’m not advocating putting you or your loved ones in harm’s way, however, there are times and places when it’s perfectly acceptable to voice your disapproval of another’s behavior. Gossip, crude jokes and bullying are all examples of the types of rudeness many of us are witness to on a regular basis. Instead of passively approving through silence, politely let the offender know that their remarks are unacceptable and unwanted. I’m confident that you and those around you will feel better and it will help set new boundaries of acceptability. Accept Shortcomings No one is perfect 100 percent of the time, so it’s important to give others the benefit of the doubt. Instead of making assumptions and taking things personally, consider what may be going on in another person’s world that you’re not aware of. In the end, it’s really about how you handle yourself despite the way others choose to conduct themselves. It’s also important to realize that you, too, are human and will not always be at your personal best. While you can’t control how or if others acknowledge their missteps, you can certainly control how you manage yours. A heartfelt and sincere apology will go a long way to repair hurt feelings, mend damaged relationships and clear up misunderstandings. What can you do this month to promote civility in your circles of influence? Perhaps it’s getting up early to make the coffee at home, walking your neighbor’s newspaper up to their front door or letting a colleague go ahead of you in the cafeteria line. I encourage you to choose one thing and commit to it for all of May —they say it only takes 21 days to make something a habit. Who knows, you just might start an epidemic of kindness in your home, neighborhood or office. Civility Star Award Luncheon Join Shelley as she presents the 2011 Mid-Michigan Civility Star Award to Bob Hoffman, our cover feature. The luncheon is open to the public. Civility Star Award Luncheon, $20/ person Tuesday, May 24, 2011, Noon Walnut Hills Country Club RSVP to Mieshel Image Consulting (517) 203-4900.
Shelley Davis Mielock
Shelley Davis Mielock is a certified business image coach and the founder of Mieshel Image Consulting, a Lansing-based firm that specializes in image development for individuals and businesses. She is also a co-host of In Her Shoes, a a weekly women’s talk radio show. To ask Shelley an image question, please e-mail her.