Civility: A Note from My Mentor, My Mom

Courteous acts make for a better, more civil world.  Incivility is defined by Merriam-Webster as a rude or discourteous act.  Basic manners, respect for others, and common courtesy are vanishing.  What can be done?  Where does civility start?

Here are three scenarios:

One day I took my mother (Megan's Grandmother) to lunch.  She used a walker to assist her and the restaurant we visited had a difficult door to hold open.  It posed a problem for me.  How do I hold the door open for her without compromising her safety?  When a wonderful lady saw my mother and I walking up to the restaurant door, she held the door open for us.  My mother noticed and said, “thank you.”  The lady whispered to me, “Is that your mother?”  I nodded yes and we exchanged knowingly looks.  I was so grateful for her kindness.  I could tell she was glad to offer a hand because at some point she experienced the same difficult task with her loved one.

As a college professor I have had students arrive late, leave early, and talk noisily to others while I’m instructing.  One evening while I was presenting new material to my students, one group of students loudly carried on a conversation.  It was distracting and disruptive.  I stopped my presentation, looked at the problematic students and said, “If your conversation is important, take it out in the hallway.”  They immediately apologized and were model students the rest of the class.

Say you are a client in a scheduled meeting with your contractor.  You are telling them something that is so important that you must tell them right now.  All of a sudden their cell phone rings.  Then up goes their index finger to interrupt you while they take their cell phone call.  How do you feel?  Are you slighted?  Do you feel unimportant?

As the business person, show respect to your clients by making a point to shut off your cell phone when you are in a meeting with them, and demonstrate how important the client and their time are to you by focusing all your attention on them and their concerns.  Showing respect for them is not only a nice thing to do, it is good for business.  Your clients will appreciate the respect you share with them and in return they will refer you to people they know.

In short, when you see someone struggling to get through a door, offer to help.  As a student, show respect by listening, arriving, and leaving class on time.  During work or pleasure, focus on the person you are with by shutting off your cell phone.  Civility encompasses a lot of lot of different acts, doesn’t it?

Courtesies are in all of us; share them with the ones you are with.

About the Author:
Donna Felker is a New Mexico Real Estate Commission certified instructor and Qualifying Broker for Felker & Associates, LLC.  She is adjunct faculty for Central New Mexico Community College and holds a Bachelor's degree in Professional Technical Education from Eastern New Mexico University.  She resides in Rio Rancho with her husband Mike.  Donna can be reached at

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