Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct
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Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  614 ratings  ·  135 reviews
Most people would agree that thoughtful behavior and common decency are in short supply, or simply forgotten in hurried lives of emails, cellphones, and multi-tasking. In Choosing Civility, P. M. Forni identifies the twenty-five rules that are most essential in connecting effectively and happily with others. In clear, witty, and, well...civilized language, Forni covers top...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 8th 2003 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2002)
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Polly Trout
Forni defines civility as the art of cultivating respectful relationships with the purpose of being good community members and good neighbors. This is a charming and kindhearted book about why life is better when we are thoughtful and respectful with each other. Forni treats kindness and consideration in relationships as art forms that can be learned, taught, and honed; he digs through the ritual of etiquette to find their philosophic foundations. His "25 Rules" include advice like: pay attentio...more
Valerie
This book had some good advice. The begginning is very slow. So much so that I found myself falling asleep but its mostly just the first part of the book.

Part One of the book mostly argues why civility is important and that being polite isn't hypocritical.

Part Two gives all the dos and don'ts to do with house guests, strangers, coworkers, etc. This is where the 25 rules of conduct are.
Part Three just sums up everything.

Like I mentioned before it has good advice so it was useful but just a bit...more
Erin
First, I think this book needs a new title. I like the subtitle "The twenty-five rules of considerate conduct" because that spoke to why I picked up this book: I wanted to be a more considerate person. "Choosing Civility" makes it sound like we've all been uncivil until now, and I found it to be a little holier-than-thou.

Second, this book needs an editor. The first 30 pages argue the case for civility, which is unnecessary because you've already gotten the reader to pick up the book. The last 30...more
Julianne
Wish it had a rip out list in the front or back as a "cheat sheet" of the 25 rules. So, here they are:

1. Pay Attention
2. Acknowledge Others
3. Think the Best
4. Listen
5. Be Inclusive
6. Speak Kindly
7. Don't Speak Ill
8. Accept and Give Praise
9. Respect Even a Subtle "No"
10.Respect Others' Opinions
11.Mind Your Body
12.Be Agreeable
13.Keep it Down
14.Respect Other People's Time
15.Respect Other People's Space
16.Apologize Earnestly
17.Assert Yourself
18.Avoid Personal Questions
19.Care for Your Guests
20.Be a...more
Marjorie Elwood
This was a lovely little book about why we should choose civility in our everyday lives and what that looks like. It was a good reminder of why we are polite with each other ("Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength." Eric Hoffer) and helped me realize where I might improve in my behavior towards others. Highly recommended.

For the library types out there: I learned about this in Public Libraries, July/August 2011: "Choose Civility: Public Libraries Take Center Stage".
Lennie Ross
How does one critique a book on civility with civility? This book was just a bit too basic. The advice was good, but the book is slow-paced and the points could have been addressed in far fewer pages... and it wasn't a very thick book to begin with. Felt like someone wrote it just to have the credit of having written a book. I would say there must be a better book on the subject out there. if you know what it is, feel free to recommend.
Meghan
This is for a college class and it was really good. I have experience reading books like this so it wasn't that hard for me. It was a real eye opener. It's all about being civil but as I read it, I thought about situations where I could have applied the rule and I feel like a new person and can actually see the world. This book was for my University 1000 class that doesn't start for another week. XD
Jeslyn
Consoled me on some pages, indicted me on others - but in a good way; some terrific redirects. Also punctuated with some fantastic quotes throughout.

I gave this book to numerous friends and family as a gift since I thought it was such an excellent read; interestingly, the gift seemed to offend some...before reading. Hopefully not after.
Amanda
Lots of wonderful common sense information, that isn't really common for today's populace. In observing the lack of civility in America today, Forni outlines how to be a civil member of society. Perhaps this brief volume should be added to required reading lists so that future generations aren't the boars that their parents have become.
Nuri
I love this book & I live by it. It's powerful, it changed me. It made me want to be a better person. Kinder, more courteous & civil to to others. It speaks to its readers intelligently & provides precise & clear directions for a happier & fulfilling life. Best of all, It has less than 200 pages. A must read for everyone.
Jon Edward
Jan 21, 2009 Jon Edward rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in living a life more mindful of others
The problem with a book like this is that 1) uncivilized people won't read it anyway and 2) civilized people will only fret about the one or two things they'd never considered. It's a good encapsulation of various ways one might act civilly. Have lent this book out already, with success.
Cherokee Schill
so much better than a social etiquette guide.
how to respond to uncivilized behavior. more importantly, how to avoid getting sucked into uncivilized behavior by those around you.
Celticoracle
Perhaps not the best choice for an audiobook, on reflection. Because I listen when I drive, I couldn't give the text the full attention it deserves - though that might also be because of the high reading level. The word "interlocutor" shouldn't have appeared once, let alone multiple times, if you ask me. Considering incivility is a problem that crosses all social and educational levels, it would have been nice to see some simpler language.

Some basic, common sense information here, and definitely...more
Jehnie
I read this because it will be used in freshmen class I'm teaching in the fall.

I think Forni has some interesting approaches to the question of civility, but he can come off as a bit old-fashioned and preachy at times - which may be off-putting for a younger audience. I also think the people who would most benefit from his ideas are the least likely to pick up this type of book. I did find myself rethinking past social interactions based on his perspective, which seems to be the point of the boo...more
Laura (Kyahgirl)
4/5; 4 stars; A-

Even though I'd suggest the first section of this book could be skipped, the central section, 25 rules of civil behaviour, still makes the book a 4 star book for me. I first found this book because my teenaged daughter was asking about some rules of etiquette. After looking through several books full of 'rules of etiquette' I decided this book had a lot more to offer. Anyone can learn the mechanics of invitations, table manners, how to dress for different social occasions. What F...more
Emily
A helpful little book, though somewhat repetitive, with some incredibly insightful gems sprinkled throughout.

Dr. Forni's Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct compiles, as the subtitle promises, 25 rules to smooth social interactions and show consideration for others. The rules actually only take up the middle of the book's three sections. The first section lays the groundwork for why considerate conduct is important. The second outlines the 25 specific guidelines. The...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Forni is European and it shows. He comes from a culture where respect for people is assumed. America disappoints him now and then. He wants to help America.
I need to practice these twenty-five things. If I practiced just these twenty-five things, I would be a much better person.
So what are they? Let me list them to remind myself:
1. Pay attention
2. Acknowledge others
3. Think the best
4. Listen
5. Be inclusive
6. Speak kindly
7. Don’t speak ill
8. Accept and give praise
9. Respect even a subtle “no”
10....more
Indrani
My rating actually is somewhere between 3 and 4 stars.

As with "Saving Civility..." by Sara Hacala, I read this for work, with the thought of using it as a framework for group sessions with adolescent boys. Dr. Forni breaks his lessons in civility into 25 "mini-chapters", rather than Ms. Hacala's 52, however they cover many of the same subjects.

As others have noted, the first section of the book can feel a bit preachy. Dr. Forni spends this section making an argument that civility is a necessary...more
Kendra
I recently attended a PLA webinar hosted by Howard County (Md.) Library System (HCLS) CEO Valerie J. Gross. She and her co-presenters discussed the change in culture that her library helped initiate within their community around the topic of civility. Small changes add up and create a kinder, healthier community that has the tools they need to discuss issues in an open environment.

A key tool to how Gross got started with the Choose Civility movement, which now involves over 100 partnering local...more
Book Calendar
P.M. Forni is writing about modern manners. He has come up with a list of ideas on how to be proper. Paying attention, listening, and being agreeable are all things which make most people much easier to get along with. Manners make society easier to negotiate.



The tips about manners include personal hygiene, physical appearance, and personal space all of which affect how we interact with others. We are reminded that when we are at our best is when people are most civil to us.



There are some poli...more
Mary Karpel-Jergic
A wonderful, small, easy to read book with a powerful message. Forni, considers manners an important aspect of acting with civility. I guess as a species we must have evolved these social rules of behaviour for a purpose but we seem to be living in an era that wants to disregard them. We all live in a society. We interact with people both close and distant and we make choices as to how we treat them. Equally, they make choices about how to treat us. That interchange shapes the world that we inha...more
Amanda
The difficulty with a book like Choosing Civility is that only polite people will look at it and it preaches to the choir. It's a useful primer on manners, but there's nothing in here your mother didn't try to teach you.

I've actually attended a talk by Professor Forni and he is, as you would expect, very well mannered and gently polite. His talk was fascinating and his explanations for the decrease of civility were well researched and thought provoking

This was at a bookstore in Baltimore, Maryla...more
Whitney
A thought-provoking, for-the-most-part practical little book that makes the case for everyday thoughtfulness. And lest anyone think that's just a nice way of saying 'this book is about how to be a doormat,' I need to explain. Forni spends a lot of time on important potentially awkward moments we've all faced now and again, like how to say no to someone we care about and stick with it, how to let someone know when they have asked too personal a question, etc. What it comes down to is that kindnes...more
Barb
This was an interesting read about our culture and where we stand on civility. Even though it may seem as if civility is a thing of the past, the author believes that we are becoming more openminded about accepting those who are different from ourselves as well as improving on respecting the environment, which can be viewed as forms of civility. We just have to get back to good old-fashioned caring for one another. I found a wonderful Chinese proverb in this book that I want to carry with me - D...more
Juliette
Forni doesn't teach us anything new here. Don't say ill will about others. Be mindful of the noise you make. Wear clean clothing. Yet these 25 rules are constantly overlooked by us all in daily life and this book serves as the gentle reminder that we need in order to make this world a better place.
One of my new years resolutions was to make an even more considerable effort of being kind to others. This book has become one of my bibles. I will carry it until it with me until it's ragged and torn....more
Alice
1. The three parts of this book didn't fit together very well. Sure, they were all about civility, but the first was a very extended introduction to the concept of civility, the second was the promised 25 rules of considerate conduct, and the third was a series of short essays, perhaps things that hadn't made it into the rules but that the author couldn't let go of when publishing the book. All related, but they didn't form a coherent whole.

2. Some of the admonishments in the rules of considerat...more
Kristen
This book is a fresh reminder of what my mother always told me growing up: Treat people like we would like to be treated. Someone previously commented on how this book is things our mother taught growing up, but somehow between being a child and growing into an adult, society has lost its way. When is it ever appropriate to treat people unkindly? Never, but somehow people think it's okay to cut people off in traffic and then flip them off because they were inconvenienced by having to wait for th...more
Jessica
Very readable, thought-provoking book about courtesy, politeness, civility, whatever you want to call it.

What I liked: It tried to find a balance between paying attention to/respecting the needs of yourself and paying attention to/respecting the needs of others. Being civil doesn't just mean accommodating the requests of others, it also means recognizing your own boundaries and expressing your needs (politely). Basically, be mindful of yourself and the world around you, whether in terms of maki...more
Joanne
This is not a self help book - although it is likely to help a lot of people. It is not a book aimed at teaching people how to manipulate others in order to get what they want either. This is a book that reiterates how we ought to behave as members of a group. Unfortunately late modern society makes it very easy to forget that we are part of a group because we are so committed to our individuality (amazing how "individuality" is expressed through trends...)and technology allows greater anonymity...more
Camille Baird
A bit dry unless you like this kind of book. I thought it was interesting enough and had some good family discussions around it. If you are inept socially it might be helpful, or if you are a boor. Otherwise, a great guide, one that more people should be required to read.
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Dr. Pier Massimo Forni is a professor in the Department of Germanic and Romance Languages and Literatures, Johns Hopkins University. In 1997 he co-founded the Johns Hopkins Civility Project, an aggregation of academic and community outreach activities that is aimed at assessing the significance of civility, manners and politeness in contemporary society. It has been reconstituted as The Civility I...more
More about P.M. Forni...
The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude The Thinking Life: How to Thrive in the Age of Distraction La politesse, svp! Solutions pratiques pour briser le cycle de l'impolitesse

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“How can you respond to an unwelcome and self-serving invitation to chill out? More or less like this: "No, I'm not going to chill out, and I'm telling you why. By telling me to chill out you are saying that I'm overreacting, which is like saying that I shouldn't feel the way I feel. I hope you'll allow me to have my feelings and express them the way I choose. Since I happen to feel strongly about this issue, there is no reason I should look the other way. I suggest that instead of making me fee bad about my reaction, you come to terms with the seriousness of your actions.” 5 likes
“....a crucial measure of our success in life is the way we treat one another every day of our lives.” 2 likes
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