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The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude [Hardcover]

P.M. Forni
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 10 2008

Many of us find ourselves confronted with rudeness every day and don’t know how to respond.  From the intrusive cell-phone user who holds loud conversations in public to the hostile highway driver who cuts one off with a quick swerve of his car, politeness seems to be on a downward spiral, surprising us at every turn. P.M. Forni, the author of Choosing Civility, has the answer. knows that rudeness begets rudeness and, in The Civility Solution, he shows us what to do when confronted with bad behavior by being assertive as well as civil. In more than one hundred different situations, he shows us how to break the rudeness cycle by responding to a variety of confrontations from bullying to rude internet behavior or the hurtful words of an insensitive family member.  How would you respond to the following?

…A salesperson ignores your requests

…A fellow driver gives you the infamous “finger”

…Your child’s playmate misbehaves 

…Your boss publicly reprimands you

P. M. Forni has solutions for all of these and many more.  In yet another simple and practical handbook, P. M. Forni presents logical solutions that reinforce good behavior and make our world a more civil place.

Product Details

Product Description


“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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Eight tough weeks into my stint as a reluctant conscript in the Italian Army, I was not looking forward to another ten months in the stark isolation of my remote Alpine outpost. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars glad I got it from the library April 14 2014
By reader
Based on ratings here I thought this book would contain ways of dealing with incivility that were not commonplace. Basically, the same solutions are recycled and rephrased - voice your concern but don't hope for change; just walk away and forget about it; make eye contact and state your case... The latter may sometimes work by informing the caring clueless that he or she has hurt you - but it may also instigate retaliation from those who don't care about you, are narcissistic; feel too proud to admit wrongdoing, or feel entitled.

OK so the solutions are not great - but my low rating has more to do with the explanations given for incivility. Basically, these barely scratch the surface and don't say much more than the obvious.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Mostly common sense March 17 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book to add to my corporate etiquette training. Unfortunately, I found the information to be pretty basic and really just common sense.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Civility Solution March 29 2013
By B Ware
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have read other things by the same author. I like what he has to say but I found this book less interesting and less helpful than some of his other books. Did learn some new things. Unfortunately, the people who really need the information in this book are unlikely to read it,
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good practice advice in a world often gone mad Sept. 24 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Concise, and yet practisable advice on how to handle uncivil situations and people. This is a welcome addition to a growing number of resources that seek to address the widespread lack of civility in today's world. Lots of things to think about.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
75 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Winner!! June 13 2008
By Dan B. - Published on
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.
47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dr. Forni on Civility June 30 2008
By StuartSchneiderman - Published on
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. Forni is too optimistic that civility can diminish the sting of rudeness and restore relationship harmony. I have often been accused of the same thing myself. We know that civility may not be an appropriate response to every act of rudeness, it is surely the place to start. Before trying other ways to respond we need to exhaust the resource of civility.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rude world cannot touch me. What to do when People are rude book Aug. 30 2009
By Violetta S - Published on
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.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good view on civility June 29 2010
By d - Published on
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.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice reading Feb. 8 2009
By Rick von Baden Baden - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book gives you a whole new perspective about being polite and civilized. It will make you understand why some people are impolite and rude, as well as teach how to deal with rudeness in a day-life basis.
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