The late Johns Hopkins Italian literature professor, P.M. Forni, made a unique career pivot from teaching Dante and 16th century manners–to the practial application of improving civil discourse. And while his rules can be seen as a useful set of principles for diplomacy, they are essential componenents of public life.
Civility, to Dr. Forni, was not just a matter of learning and observing rules of good manners. It was something with very real consequences. Civility means less stress, which has advantages like improved health, safer driving and more productivity at work.
Lack of civility, he argued, is also more than a matter of semantics.
“Acts of violence are often the result of an exchange of acts of rudeness that spiral out of control,” he told The Christian Science Monitor in 2007. “Disrespect can lead to bloodshed. By keeping the levels of incivility down we keep the levels of violence down.”
Via P.M. Forni, Who Argued for ‘Chosing Civlity,’ Dies at 67 NYT
His book, Choosing Ciivility, could be used as a guidebook for civics education, diplomacy training, as well as academic and career advisement. In fact, writing in NACADA’s journal, Kim Wrigt offered this review:
Each of Forni’s twenty-five rules is a guide to behaving civilly in our personal and professional dealings with others. While all of the chapters are a good reminder of how we should behave towards others, there are a few rules that I have found to be especially relevant in helping students make the most of their experiences on our college campuses.
The first rule is to pay attention. While this seems to be simple and obvious Forni points out that by paying attention to others we are “…acknowledging and honoring…” their worth (p. 38). This applies to both advisors and students – we should be fully present in our conversations with each other in order to make the most of the time we have with each other….
Forni’s closing thoughts are that there is nothing as important as having quality interactions with others. Better interactions equal a better life; behaving civilly is as simple as taking time to stop and think before we act.
Via NACADA Journal, Book Review, Issue 34(1)