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Canada's Business

by Bruce Whitestone

The decline of civility

There has been such a pronounced decline in civility in recent years that it is now adversely affecting the economy.

Recently, this columnist was in a bank and a teenager showed up very scantily clad. She would have shamed someone in a bikini.   Clearly, the bank should have refused to serve her.

What else would the bank accept? Some business establishments - for example, shop windows - will show a sticker “No shoes, No shirt, No Service.”

Not very long ago, at a major department store, I observed a little old lady looking through a pile of rugs. She was turning over each rug with so much difficulty that she was almost doing a summersault while no salesperson offered to assist her.

While shopping in another store, I was addressed by my first name, despite the fact my age was obvious and she was unknown to me.  Should I have not been called “sir” or perhaps my name with “Mr. Whitestone”?

It seems this decline started with businesses introducing dressed down “casual Fridays”.  Why do employees now show up for work casually dressed all too often?  Is that sloppy outfit not conducive to careless work and a lack of respect for their position and the company?

At major universities, more lecturers are appearing in most uncaring manners.  The same applies to schools where the teachers dress in blue jeans. Does that not create a lax attitude by students?

Major companies’ call centres represent this problem further.

No one gets a sir or madam.  Handwritten notes have been replaced by computer generated emails, if anything at all is even sent.

This very pervasive attitude of incivility, of course, provokes a negative response from the public.   We now seem to have to accept that this is the way things are. However, the lack of civility does not attract a customer who then is likely to take their business elsewhere.

It is all a far cry from the too-strict and more formal ways of generations past. Still, the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction and the consequences are neither good for business nor for making society and life more pleasant.

Let’s wake up and restore civility to our lives, for the sake of our economy and mutual respect.  

Politicians, especially in the U.S., need not apply!



Vol 49 Issue 51


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