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Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct Paperback – November 8, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Small but mighty new reference...the only book I can recommend to all audiences....P.M. Forni deserves great acclaim for developing such potent yet easy to digest remedies for many of today's ills. (Daniel Buccino, METAPSYCHOLOGY ONLINE)

Choosing Civility is one of those rare gems one never expected to find but always hoped would appear. Professor Forni writes with wit, force, and grace on a subject that has become all too hoity-toity. Forni reclaims manners from the mantlepiece and grounds his advice in the details of everyday life. This book is about how we ought to treat each other. What could be more important than that? (Edward Hallowell, M.D., author of Connect and The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness)

Choosing Civility is a beautiful book that lifts the spirit, warms the heart, and provides clear direction for a balanced life. Dr. Forni gently guides the reader to relationship insights that assure love, joy and meaningful friendship. Anyone interested in living a civil and worthwhile life should read this book. (Arthur P. Ciaramicoli, Ed D., PhD, Author of The Power of Empathy)

About the Author

DR. P.M. FORNI is an award-winning professor of Italian Literature at Johns Hopkins University. In 2000 he founded The Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins and over the years has continued to teach courses on the theory and history of manners. His book Choosing Civility (2002) has sold more than 100,000 copies. Reports on his work have appeared on The New York Times, The Times of London, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Los Angeles Times. He has been a on a number of radio and television shows, including ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Sunday Morning and BBC's Outlook. For years he was a regular on-the-air contributor to the Baltimore NPR affiliate station and the nationally syndicated radio show The Satellite Sisters.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (November 8, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312302509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312302504
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Blaine Greenfield on November 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Read and thoroughly enjoyed CHOOSING CIVILITY by
Dr. P.M. Forni, a professor who teaches civility and Italian
literature at Johns Hopkins University . . . it is a little but
thoughtful book that I strongly recommend to anybody looking to
make life both easier and more enjoyable . . . we all find ourselves surrounded by those we perceive as inconsiderate (never us,of course!) . . . but how can we manage to live with such people?
Forni presents lots of useful examples, as well as advice,
on how to answer that question . . . in addition, he provides
25 rules that readers are urged to at least ponder . . . some
of them are as follows:
Acknowledge others
Be inclusive
Be agreeable
Apologize earnestly and thoughtfully
Avoid personal questions,
Don't shift responsibility and blame
While all these might seem basic, in reality, they
are quite a bit trickier to follow . . . but Forni
got me thinking about them, and that's a good
thing . . . now to actually implement them into
my daily existence, well . . . that's something
I can at least work toward!
There were many memorable passages; among them:
Healthy young men from two Harvard classes of the early
1950s were asked to fill out a questionnaire that would
assess how close they were to their parents. A check of
their medical records 35 years later yielded intriguing data.
One hundred percent of the men who had reported low levels
of closeness to both parents had been diagnosed in the following
years with serious diseases such as heart disease and duodenal
ulcer. Among those who had reported good, warm relationships with both parents only 47 percent had been similarly diagnosed.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Dan B. on March 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Psychotherapists often work with clients who, for a variety of reasons, just can't seem to get along with other people. Teachers of psychotherapy work with trainees who are learning how to get along with their clients. Families face questions about how to help things run smoothly and how to help children behave better.
P.M. Forni's small but mighty new reference, Choosing Civility, is the only book I can recommend to all readers. And if readers are open to his insights and willing to do things differently to improve their relationships at home and at work, Choosing Civility may be the only book they'll ever need.
Forni has produced a book that is at once smart yet accessible to a wide audience. It is full of concrete examples and personal anecdotes, and it is written in a warm, engaging tone that is usually impossible for academics to achieve.
Though it will eventually appear effortless, civility requires work - conscious effort guided by vision and perseverance. We "make" nice after all, but the practice of civility, as Forni's well-sourced text reveals, is the royal road to health and happiness. Not only is civility the path to personal contentment and connection, but it's good for business too. Often, nice guys do finish first.
We have been led astray into thinking that it is somehow more honest to be in touch with our feelings and blurt out whatever comes to mind to whomever we encounter rather than seeing training in etiquette as being training in sensitivity. Civility encourages strength and assertiveness, and it helps us find the tools to say the right thing at the right time to the right person, not everything to anyone. Civility will help people speak freely, not intemperately or abusively.
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64 of 72 people found the following review helpful By biz_buzz on June 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Forni addresses a root problem in our ailing society: civility is on the wane. Scads of people act rudely, crudely and indifferently without hesitation; it's as automatic to them as eating and breathing. Forni gives us 25 thoughtful rules of conduct to become a civilized person and by reading them, allow us to take a hard look at ourselves to make sure we are not part of this burgeoning incivility problem.
Forni also comments on different aspects of civility: why is it in such short supply? He hits the nail on the head: we all "live among strangers." Incivility is much safer when we are dishing out rudeness to someone we do not know. Indeed, if we know someone, it may stop our rudeness in our tracks (as Forni conveys in an amusing way).
All that said, I hope the book comes out in a second edition, with the following improvements:
* Dr. Forni's text occassionally sounds too eriudite and scholarly. Much of the book avoids this textbookish tone, but not all. I am sure Forni would readily agree we want as many people as possible from all walks of life to pick up this book and read it cover to cover!
* The book is strong on how to be civil, but light on advice on how to deal with incivility. (Sadly, the clods out there who desperately NEED to read this book won't.) Forni observes that one need not be a doormat with a uncivil person, but rather convey firmness in a civil way. Exactly how one can effectively convey such firmness in the face of uncivilized behavior is not sufficiently answered in this book.
All in all, Forni fills a gaping void by addressing the issue of incivility in our society. As Forni states, good manners make for better quality lives. For that reason alone, anyone should be willing to give civility a chance.
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