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December 28, 2006

Hope for 2007

That we each become more civil…that we contemplate and act with civility.

“The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.”
Benjamin Franklin, American statesman, scientist, philosopher, writer and inventor (1706-1790)

The components of civility……certainly there are more than these……


Civility requires work and dedication.
Wishing you a 2007 with
civility to share and friends, family and coworkers who care.

December 17, 2006

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff….and it’s all small stuff

“Take time to reflect on the miracle of life.”
Richard Carlson, American psychologist and author (1961-2006)

The 1997 bestseller with that name is by Richard Carlson, California psychologist. He died Wednesday from a heart attack. He was midway through a media tour to promote his newest book, "Don't Get Scrooged,'' which tackles how to deal with holiday stress.

Carlson was 45 years old.

He wrote 30 books. "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff'' was on bestseller lists for two years.

He understood and advocated for civility.
His signature book has ‘chapters’ that are generally two pages long. The titles alone are inspirational. They include
Remind Yourself that When You Die, Your “In Basket” Won’t Be Empty
Don’t Interrupt Others or Finish Their Sentences
Let Others Have the Glory
Become a Better Listener
Choose Your Battles Wisely
Choose Being Kind over Being Right
When in Doubt about Whose Turn It Is to Take Out the Trash, Go Ahead and Take It Out
Remember that You Become What You Practice Most
Just for Fun, Agree with Criticism Directed Toward You (Then Watch It Go Away)
Understand the Statement, “Wherever You Go, There You Are”
Stop Blaming Others
Live This Day as if It Were Your Last. It Might Be!

If you own a copy, retrieve it from the bookshelf. If you don’t, check it out from the library. It’s a great book to read individual chapters before falling asleep or for meditation. It would be a great gift for others.

On his Web site, http://www.dontsweat.com/press/obituary.html

December 11, 2006

Strive for empathy

“Yet, taught by time, my heart has learned to glow for other's good, and melt at other's woe.”
Homer, Greek poet (approx 800-750 B.C.)

I read an article in today’s paper about how to react to serious illness and death of coworkers or coworker's relatives.

The advice was ‘say what you would like to hear if the situation were reversed’. What would you find acceptable for your coworkers to say or do if one of your loved ones was seriously ill? Be empathetic. You can think of empathy as being like an actor preparing for a role.

Yesterday I learned a friend’s husband was about to lose his job of 25 years if he didn’t move to the new headquarters 175 miles away. I tried to imagine how I would feel.

It’s not civil to ignore these situations and say nothing. It’s not civil to drag out your own horror stories. It’s not a time to pry into other’s lives.

Civility is reacting with action and words.
Are there some jobs at work you can help with or take over?
“I understand this is very difficult for you.”
“How are you doing today?”

Empathy is needed in many work situations.
Take the flip side. Someone in your office receives a citation or does outstanding work on a project. If you were that person, you’d appreciate your coworkers acknowledging your success but that doesn’t always happen. Why not? Is it envy? Is it obliviousness because you’re so focused on your own work and personal life?

As the quote from Homer notes (top of right column), empathy comes easier the older one gets because you’ve experienced more. It doesn’t necessarily make it easy to know what to say or do. It takes compassion and thinking about how you’d want people to react if you were in the situation.

Strive for empathy. Teach your children empathy.
Empathy, noun: Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives
Synonyms: commiseration, compassion, condolence
Etymology: Greek, literally ‘to suffer with'

The Gannett News Service story ‘Coping with illness, death in the office’

December 04, 2006

The season for civility

“The great secret, Eliza, is not having bad manners or good manners or any other particular sort of manners, but having the same manner for all human souls: in short, behaving as if you were in heaven, where there are no third-class carriages, and one soul is as good as another.”
George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright (1856-1950)

On Thanksgiving eve, civility was the topic in the CBS Evening News free speech segment and also an Associated Press story.

Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of former vice-presidential candidate John Edwards, talked about extending the gift of decency to the people who serve us every day. An important point was remember their names.

An Associated Press story related the efforts of an Iowa professor who gives tips on dealing with distracted students, read that as students behaving uncivilly in the classroom.

Several weeks ago I served as the congregational liaison for a wedding. My duty was to direct guests to the sanctuary, help them find restrooms, etc. The entry of the bridesmaids was one of the most touching, respectful and chivalrous I’d ever seen. As I watched standing at the back of the sanctuary, I was deeply moved. Each bridesmaid entered the sanctuary and waited at the back of the center aisle for her groomsman to walk from the chancel area down the center aisle and escort her to the front. …..And then during the ceremony, several cell phones rang. Does one have to announce before the ceremony begins “Please turn off your cell phones.”? Print it in the wedding program?

Taped to the counter at Java Joes on Fourth Street in downtown Des Moines:
“Please conclude your cell phone conversation before ordering. (It’s a respect thing.)”
And if you’re there during this holiday season and like egg nog, try the egg nog latte or cappuccino. (I don’t know which it was.) I drink lots of coffee, but rarely lattes or cappuccinos. This egg nog drink was a bit of heaven. I may never drink another because I don’t think it can surpass the Java Joes one.