BkRev #1781. Choosing Civility: The Twenty Five Rules of Considerate Conduct. (2002). P.M. Forni. New York City. St. Martin’s Griffin. ISBN: 978-0-312-30250-4. $12.99
Christie L. Pagel
Academic Advisor, Mike Ilitch School of Business
Wayne State University, Detroit
Choosing Civility is a pleasant reminder of the etiquette and kindness that we can practice to help make the world a better place. This book offers simple ways which we can be kinder and more considerate. For example, the rules focus on the importance of acknowledging others (a simple smile or paying a thoughtful compliment), speaking kindly to others (both verbally and with our body language) and respecting other people’s time and space (by valuing both the time and space of others in the same way that we value our own time and space).
In the book, Forni highlights 25 rules for considerate conduct and also offers examples of how to put the rules into practice. As a reader, it is easy to recall opportunities that were both taken and missed in doing the small things that can make a big difference to other people. It is also a reminder that even the simplest of interactions and the most modest kindnesses are not overlooked in society today. Upon reading many of the chapter titles, there were times when the rules seemed so basic that it was hard to believe that the rules had to be identified (paying attention to others, for example), however, as Fonti revealed both the reasoning behind each rule as well as examples to carry out the rules the reasoning became much clearer. While some rules outlined in the book may seem to be common knowledge, Forni takes readers inside the reasoning and explains the importance of how we treat each other. Perhaps the most eye-opening message included etiquette that seems to have disappeared in present culture. While the book was written fifteen years ago, some of the rules are a gentle reminder of a time where human interaction was more prevalent than in today’s world of electronic communication. For this reason, the book may be more important today because many of us interact in-person with others less than we did in the past.
The most valuable information an advisor can learn from the book is to not forget that when working with students we have many opportunities to practice kindnesses, even in difficult situations. On a daily basis, how we treat our students’ not only affects how students feel about themselves, it also reveals who we are as advisors and people. If for no other reason, the book was worth the time spent reading to serve as a reminder of the importance of not only our roles as advisors but also the many opportunities and ways that we can make a difference with our students at every opportunity. Throughout the book one of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quotes, “Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying”, was a constant theme that was not easily missed.
As explained above, the best features of the book were the rules, explanations and suggestions for practicing more considerate conduct in society today. Due to the book being 15 years old, there could be that argument that an updated version could be more easily applied to the world in which we live in today. While this is not a book that would be re-read multiple times, it is certainly a resource that will be kept in a convenient place and will serve as a reminder for practicing etiquette and kindness towards others.