The Saturday Wall Street Journal has an intriguing article called "Be Nice, Or What?"
It is all about a civility movement that John Hopkins professor P.M. Forni has sparked in Howard County Maryland. He has written a book called "Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rule of Considerate Conduct." Here are some of the rules, according to Amazon:
* Think Twice Before Asking Favors
* Give Constructive Criticism
* Refrain from Idle Complaints
* Respect Others' Opinions
* Don't Shift Responsibility and Blame
* Care for Your Guests
* Accept and Give Praise
I just ordered a copy, and am reading about the movement, as I am going to be one of the guests talking about this movement on a Washington D.C. NPR station this Monday. It will be from noon to 1PM Eastern time on The Kojo Nnamdi Show WAMU, 88.5 FM.
All this sounds pretty reasonable to me, and in many ways,it is an "accentuate the positive approach" in comparison to the "eliminate the negative" approach in The No Asshole Rule. I do worry a bit, however, about the side effects of forcing people to be nice, and have tried to take pains in The No Asshole Rule to emphasize that it is not argument against toughness, competitive behavior, moving quickly, and constructive conflict. And I also worry slightly -- as I do about the no asshole rule too -- that if we are too zealous about becoming civility Nazi's that it will stifle creativity and individuality, and we will end-up with a society of overly polite clones who are prone to passive-aggressive behavior.
Despite such fretting, however, I was wishing that there was a civility movement in Palo Alto yesterday. I stopped to pull in a parking space just before a driver -- a wife with her husband -- parked almost exactly as you see in the picture to the right (indeed, the main difference was they were another few inches over into the next space). They did this nasty deed as my daughter and I were waiting to pull into the next parking space just to the right of the one they had had taken. These two lovely people stopped, looked at their parking job for a second, glanced at us waiting to pull in next to them, and then shrugged and walked off without re-parking. I wish I had a copy of Professor Forni's book to give them, and I confess that I did rummage around my car to see if I had a copy of The No Asshole Rule to give them -- alas I did not (I wonder, would giving them the book had broken Professor Forni's rules?)
So -- despite my concerns -- I am most curious to learn more about this new civility movement. It just might be a good idea!
P.S. The above picture comes from this post called Why Hugh Hefner Likes the No Asshole Rule and is the first image that popped-up when I put "no asshole rule" in the "image" search engine on Google. So I am not alone in viewing this as a sign of an urban asshole.