I am hooked on the "power of civility" and the "power of thoughtfulness" as the Number One Long-term Moneymaker.
(As well as a virtuous way to live.)
Three books that you ...
The first is new:
The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility Is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It, by Christine Pearson and Christine Porath. In his Foreword, my pal, the incomparable Warren Bennis, claims that this book will be shelved next to the likes of Silent Spring and Unsafe at Any Speed—that is, it's a game-changer. I think he has a point. The "best" lawyers routinely lose jury trials to "ordinary" lawyers because the superstars hector witnesses and otherwise come across as bullies. The "best" surgeons, lacking or short on emotional intelligence, are sued every time they pick up a scalpel—and their mediocre counterparts make errors galore, but stay away from the courtroom courtesy great bedside manner. (The stats here are remarkable!) Customers are lost through rudeness—to less effective but more civil competitors. Top employees are lost by the bushel in rude workplaces—even if such workplaces offer great technical opportunities.
You are a damn fool (he said ever so rudely!!) if you don't read-ingest-act on-treat as "strategic" this book.
In the same vein are a pair of books by E.M. Forni:
What can I say?
I was near tears as I read them!
They are so very very very right!
They have such a powerful set of messages ... for you and me!
(Or at least me.)
Herewith some excerpts, starting with Forni's decision to get into the "civility business." Bizarrely, he is a professor of Italian literature at Johns Hopkins, who in 2000 started the Johns Hopkins Civility Project:
"For many years literature was my life ... One day, while lecturing on the Divine Comedy, I looked at my students and realized that I wanted them to be kind human beings more than I wanted them to know about Dante. I told them that if they knew everything about Dante and then went out and treated an elderly lady on the bus unkindly, I'd feel that I had failed as a teacher."—P.M. Forni, Choosing Civility
"The letter from the public relations director of the retirement community was similar to many I had received over the years. It included the date and time of the talk I was soon to give there, directions on how to get to the lecture hall, and other sundry bits of information. As I absentmindedly perused it, the sentence at the very bottom of the sheet caught my attention. It read: 'We will have a glass of water available at the podium.' Of course it is not uncommon for speakers to find a glass of water at the podium—although I have given many a speech without that basic comfort. For the first time, however, a host had taken the trouble of reassuring me in advance that the water would await me at the appointed place and time. An act that many would consider almost negligible was made significant by virtue of being put in writing. Here was someone trying to do all she could to make her guest feel welcome and at ease. The message she conveyed was 'We value you and your presence among us, and we are thinking of all you might possibly need. Rest assured that, as far as we are concerned, you will have the opportunity to perform at your best.' All I had to do, in other words, was relax and enjoy their hospitality. It was thoughtful professionalism at its best."—P.M. Forni, The Civility Solution (from "Eight Rules For a Civil Life," #7: "Pay Attention to the Small Things")
"I denied myself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly and of showing immediately some absurdity in his proposition; and in answering I began by observing that in certain cases or circumstances his opinion would be right, but that in the present case there 'appeared' or 'seemed to me' some difference, etc. The conversation I engaged in went more pleasantly; the modest way in which I proposed my opinions procured them a readier reception and less contradiction; I had less mortification when I was found to be in the wrong, and I more easily prevailed with others to give up their mistakes and join with me when I happened to be in the right."—Benjamin Franklin (in The Civility Solution)
"Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness."—Lucius Annaeus Seneca (in Choosing Civility)
"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind."—Henry James (in Choosing Civility)
"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: For thereby some have entertained angels unawares."—Paul of Tarsus (in Choosing Civility)
"I can live for two months on a good compliment."—Mark Twain (in Choosing Civility)
Over to you ...
(This post has been on the front burner for some days—the coincidence of its arrival today, following Congressman Joe Wilson's decidedly uncivil outburst last night in the United States House of Representatives, is just that ... coincidental. But, indeed, powerful illustration of the points made above. Wilson's career may not be over, though a prospective rival raised a lot of money after the "occasion," but at the least any leadership aspirations the Congressman may have had are most likely DOA.)
Before blogging became all the rage, Tom was posting book reviews and Observations (essentially early blog posts) to this site. You can find the archives below.
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