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In Defense of Common Courtesy

May 24th, 2016

By: Karen Colligan

A lot of people are grumbling these days – some privately, some very publicly – about “political correctness.” They claim that we’ve gone overboard in our efforts not to offend, and that by doing so we are limiting the “free speech” guaranteed us by the First Amendment.  Seriously?

OK, I agree that sometimes it gets cumbersome to write him or her, him/her, she/he or the diminutive “s/he” so as not to offend one gender or the other. And I often lose track of the currently most politically correct way to convey greetings for that certain holiday in December.  But many anti-PCers are using the guise of their free speech rights to be downright rude, disrespectful, and unkind. It begs the question, “Didn’t your mother teach you any manners?”

I don’t think the framers of the constitution intended the guarantee of free speech to be an open license for bullying and bad language.  I believe the intention was to protect our ability, as Americans, to express our opinions – even if they are against the government – without going to jail for it. We shouldn’t have to legislate good manners and common courtesy.

I’m a firm believer in open, honest communication. And I also believe you can be honest without being offensive.  “Telling it like it is” should not apply to criticizing someone for things over which they have no control – their national origin, the color of their skin, their size, their health, their sexual orientation, etc.

Let’s get back to thinking before we speak.  Let’s convey that we value other people by framing our words in a way that shows respect, not because it’s politically correct, but because it’s the right and courteous thing to do.

A while back I wrote a blog about the waning use of “please” and “thank you” and other courtesies that used to be commonplace. I ended with Karen’s Rules of Civility, inspired by George Washington’s list written so long ago.  I’ll leave you with it again this time.

  1. Smile – even at a stranger – you never know what amazing things may come of it.

  2. Say “Please.” Always.

  3. Say “Thank you” and acknowledge the gift or deed or service received.

  4. Remember, we are all human; we have good days and bad days. Don’t glory in someone else’s bad day.

  5. Listen. Put down your cell phone and engage in conversation.

  6. Be kind to one another. (Borrowed from Ellen DeGeneres).

  7. Say: “Yes, and…” not “Yes, but…” Be positive!  See the possibilities…

  8. Tell the truth. Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

Till next time,


Communication, Kindness, Life


Feeding the Right Wolf – The Power of Positivity

May 12th, 2016

By: Karen Colligan

Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand for the past nine months or so (and who would blame you?) you’ve probably felt the effects of the big black cloud of negativity that’s looming about. I see it hovering in the buildings of the organizations I work with, reflected in the grim expressions of people on the street, and bolstered by the politicians and pundits we hear every…single…day. Even Pollyanna might have difficulty finding something to be glad about today.

So what are we to do? Give in to the negativity? No! Despite what’s going on around you, you have a choice as to how you respond to it, just like in this Native American legend.

One evening an old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego."

"The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

I’m here to suggest that you feed the right wolf. Make a conscious effort to focus on the positive, and increase what Shirzad Chamine calls your “positive intelligence” (PQ). Not only will you be happier, you’ll improve your relationships, increase your success at work, and, let’s face it, be a lot more fun to be around!

Here are some ideas for feeding the right wolf.

• Think about one thing that is causing you a lot of stress. Now think of three ways you can turn that into an opportunity.
• Practice saying “Yes, and…” instead of “Yes, but…”
• Keep a gratitude journal. Every day, write down something positive about the day.
• Surround yourself with positive people.
• Turn off the news and turn on a comedy.
• Get away from your computer and go for a walk, a hike, a run or some other activity OUTSIDE.
• Play.
• Watch kids at play.
• Meditate.

Let’s make positivity “trending…”

“You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.” – Joyce Meyer

Till next time,

Gratitude, Health, Kindness, Relationships, success