I miss my old friend Civility. I’ve been thinking about putting up flyers around my neighborhood to see if anyone has seen her. I used to bump into her everywhere, she lurked in hallways and corners but she also hid in plain sight in the ‘good old days’. Civility held the door open for the person behind her. Similarly, Civility allowed the person in line behind her to go ahead of her because they only had three items in their shopping basket and she had twenty-nine billion in hers. Civility didn’t not lay on her horn one nanosecond after the light turned green because the car in front of her didn’t bolt forward like a NASCAR driver in pole position. Civility was … really … kind.
More and more I notice that we seem to believe that any space we inhabit entitles us to treat it as if it is our personal space, we own it and can do as we like. Well, a funny thing happens when Civility enters a room, even for a moment – the dynamic changes. I want to be more like Civility – she’s one cool chick.
I was at Barnes & Noble last week sitting at a table (for two) with my laptop when a gentleman walked by with his laptop. Seeing no available table (and clearly looking for one) he settled on a chair by the window. I find it ridiculously uncomfortable to balance a laptop in my lap and assume that others feel the same way. I was only using half the table and there was an empty chair across from me as well. A table for two and I only needed ONE half the table and ONE chair. I thought to myself, what would Civility do?
“I don’t need the whole table, you’re welcome to the other half if you’d like to sit here,” I turned to him and said.
He replied, “No thanks you, but thanks for the offer.”
“If you change your mind you’re welcome to join me.”
Ten minutes later – he came over and joined me at the table. I think it surprised him that I offered the other half of the table to him because most people don’t. As one thing leads to another he thanked me and introductions ensued, which led to conversation that pulled the woman who had been taking up an ENTIRE table behind me (and watched me invite him to sit with me) into our orbit making a table for two a table for three. Business and contact cards were exchanged and for a span of almost an hour, in the corner of a bookstore – three strangers’ worlds collided, expanded and were made a bit better for awhile on a cold wet night as we all waited for someone we loved to finish something somewhere.
Never know what will happen when Civility enters the mix, huh?
Give it a whirl and tell me your experience.