Some Advice on Holiday Civility

Author P.M. Forni is on a mission to spread civility.
Author P.M. Forni is on a mission to spread civility. (By Lois Raimondo -- The Washington Post)
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By Valerie Finholm
Hartford Courant
Monday, December 1, 2008

Was your idiot brother-in-law off on another political rant at Thanksgiving?

Did "sweet" grandmother comment on your weight as she handed you a piece of pumpkin pie?

And did someone steal your parking space at the mall?

It seems everyone might need some mannerly advice, especially as Phase 2 of the holiday season approaches. For guidance, we talked to P.M. Forni, author of "The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude." The Johns Hopkins University professor of Italian literature is also the author of "Choosing Civility" and founder of the Civility Initiative.

The holidays seem to be rife with rudeness. How come?

Because we are stressed. We have expectations of the season that very often don't pan out. This year at family unions there may be the added stress agent of the economy and the elections.

How do you respond to rude people, especially if they're family members?

The key is to prepare for a situation. Prepare your response. If your uncle says, "Here we have our resident liberal whose candidate won the election," your response might be: "I wonder how you determined how I voted. I don't remember disclosing that with you." Be assertive -- otherwise they will repeat that behavior -- but not aggressive. Handle it with as much detachment as possible.

Do rude people know they're rude?

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