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20-40-60 Etiquette: Does good behavior still matter?

QUESTION: I just read Kurt Reiger's letter (among others) to the editor in The Oklahoman Saturday, Oct. 6th. Reiger referenced a recent local sermon and noted that the minister said “we seem to have lost a sense of civility” during the confirmation process for Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. He is spot on!

What can we do, as individuals and as groups, to remind people that good behavior still matters? We must respect one another. Being polite and showing consideration for others is very important. How can we help?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: Respect, kindness and empathy.

I hope to be able to listen to views that do not agree with mine and respect that person's thoughts. To listen, have a respectful discussion and go on with kindness and empathy. ALL voices matter, but it is the delivery that can make a discussion an attack. Think before you speak. Treat others how you would like to be treated.

LILLIE-BETH BRINKMAN: Start by listening. Try to understand where a person is coming from, even if you initially disagree with him or her. Instead of holding on tightly to your position, read a differing point of view. Look for common ground, and look at things at a deeper level than sound bites and superficial tweets. (A personal plug: Read a newspaper and not just the links you see shared on social media. News coverage is more robust and fair than you think.) Argue with facts that you verify, not with social media memes or wild rumors. It's OK to disagree, but let's stop viewing the opposing view as evil and start trying to understand each other.

HELEN'S ANSWER: This Facebook post from a couple of years ago pretty much says it all as to what an individual might do to help with the problem. It has been shared many times through the years, so I could not find the original author, and the post I saw does not credit the author:

“While much of America seems to be getting more and more divisive, I'm going to be holding doors for strangers, letting people cut in front of me in traffic, greeting all I meet, exercising patience with others, and smiling at strangers. I'll do this as often as I have the opportunity. I will not stand idly by and let children live in a world where unconditional love is invisible and being rude is always acceptable. Join me in showing more love and respect to others. ..."

GUEST'S ANSWER: Hilarie Blaney, corporate, U.S. and international etiquette protocol consultant: We have to be role models for our family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors and the world at large. I would offer this — volunteer to mentor at church, in the business community, schools and nonprofits. This is why I am so passionate about teaching etiquette classes to young professionals, college students, executives, nonprofits and more. Thank you for your desire to make this a better community. We can have civility in a fast-food world!

Callie Athey is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email