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The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude Hardcover – June 10, 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


It is an honor to recommend this fabulous book! P.M. Forni's thoughtful discussion of the importance of civility in today's hectic world will surely help readers find viable solutions for dealing with a variety of rude situations. (Peggy Post, director of the Emily Post Institute and author of Emily Post Etiquette, 17th Edition)

Pier M. Forni will be remembered as one of the greatest generals in our nation's struggle for civility. (Smithsonian Magazine)

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

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (June 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312368496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312368494
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
PM Forni has done it again! He has written another compact volume that is quite smart while also being quite simple, and which is exceedingly erudite while also being quite accessible. Most of all, The Civility Solution is eminently and immediately useful. Building on his prior best-selling success in Choosing Civility, Forni has created the perfect companion volume which answers the reciprocal question, "OK, now that we think we know how to be more civil, what do we do when people continue to be rude to us?" It may be simple, but it is not always easy, because common sense is seldom common practice. Even though I was able to use several of Forni's practical suggestions on the train home from NYC just yesterday, in its consideration of what rudeness is and how to respond to it, The Civility Solution underscores that the real solutions lie in ourselves and our own efforts to be good and decent and civil people. As a psychotherapist, I am able to suggest PM Forni's books as primers in how to become a better person and demonstrate one's preferred vision of oneself, one's character, and of one's future, at home, at work, and in the marketplace, as well as to learn ways to deal with others who behave less than admirably.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Forni has written clearly and cogently about an inspired topic. In the great cosmopolitan metropolis I call home, rudeness is an everyday fact of life. A goodly portion of my own work as a life coach concerns helping people to learn how to deal with it effectively.

Deal with rudeness badly or ineffectively and we suffer psychological and even physical stress. Deal with it well, as Forni puts it, with civility, and our self-respect, character, and relationships improve.

If this is true, then you have to wonder why the psycho-professions have not flooded the world with such manuals. Why is it that the topic has only drawn the attention of sociologists and etiquette experts? The skill is surely more important than getting in touch with your inner spirituality.

Rudeness aims at one's place in society. In a community like New York where the extraordinary mix of peoples and cultures makes any determination of status and standing ambiguous at best, rudeness is a way to see how we stand in relation to others on the social hierarchy. Rudeness tests who is up and who is down, who is in and who is out, who is putting on airs and who is up to the task.

Ups and downs are part of the way we talk about these issues. We want to stand up for ourselves when others are trying to put us down. And Dr. Forni correctly asserts, we want to do so without making fools of ourselves, without engaging in histrionic displays, without diminishing ourselves. We need to reply to rudeness without becoming aggressive, contentious, litigious,or argumentative.

When someone is rude, we do not want to slap him down; we want to offer him the opportunity to recognize his fault and to back down voluntarily.

Perhaps Dr.
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Format: Hardcover
Has very everyday situations for examples, even though some of them do not apply to me, I could "see" it happen. I especially liked the 2nd half of the book where he talks about personality types, very interesting, opened my eyes to myself and those around me, I don't take rudeness personally now. The other day I was driving and someone cut in front of me and gave me the bird (why? who knows), I barely noticed; later I was shocked at my reactions because it was so much not like me, normally I would blow up and in some cases would try to catch up to see the offender...I didn't care, I let him deal with his own problem of being rude. Another points that stroke our at me is where he says that usually no person in a clear healthy mind is rude, that there is a reason behind all rude behavior. It helped me to literally pretend that I am in a bubble and no one can see it and I am the only one who decides when to let it down and get "involved" with the rude person's underlying problem (this is one of the authors suggestions by the way). I am very glad I read this book. I tended to take everything personally, from slow checkout lane to a rude telemarketer, I was almost always in a bad mood because of this....I am so happy now because I do not care, I learned to know that none of those people know me and there is no way they can do anything specifically pointed towards me. I cannot say this book is a lifesaver, that would be too dramatic, but definitely made mine more pleasant. I recommend it to any one who tends to take rudeness as a personal act, and I think those who ARE rude should read it themselves. I have sympathy for such people now. The other day in a park there was a lady yelling and just being rude, instead of joining and supporting her bad mood, hence getting myself in one, I simply asked her if she was having a bad day, a miracle happened! Anyway, read it and you will be glad you did.
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Format: Hardcover
The book has a fairly well-rounded approach towards the topic.

Part 1 of the book has concepts that the author wants you to build on. Part 2 of the book has some real-life examples based on the concepts presented earlier.

The author starts with explaining and defining rudeness, and goes-on to set the stage for what we can do to prevent rudeness ourselves. He mentions strategies like being patient, empathetic, friendly, appreciative etc. He also has some tips based on the type of people you are dealing with - extroverts, people afraid to try new things, risk-takers etc. Once you have all the proactive approches to preventing rudeness, the author then explains "dealing with rudeness". He also talks about being assertive without being rude.

Part 2 of the book is devoted to real-life examples, and how to deal with them. Totalling over a 100 situations, they cover a wide variety of interactions with family, colleagues and email comminications. I liked most of the solutions presented by the author. Of course, each person will need to customize their choice of words to suit their own personality, but it provides a good starting point. However, I disagree with a couple of the solutions. For example, the author provides a nicely-worded solution to not letting someone cut in front of you in the line. But, in the example chosen, the requester would miss the train he is trying to catch if he stands at the back of the line. I think the more civil solution would be to let the person cut-in, based on the advice to be empathetic in Part 1.

Apart from the small distractor, the book provides many tools in increasing likeability and assertiveness at the same time. I strongly recommend the book.
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