Wednesday Smart Shibboleth#9: Lukaszewski’s Civility and Decency Manifesto: 39 Paths to Decency

39 Paths to Decency

The true test of civility is a commitment to verbal, written communication, deeds, and actions that benefit a recipient more than the sender. Here are 39 possible paths that can get you to civility, decency, integrity, and trust. Always pick as many as you can, as frequently as you can.

1. Accountability
2. Apology
3. Calmness
4. Candor
5. Character
6. Charitability
7. Chivalry
8. Civility
9. Compassion
10. Constructiveness
11. Courtesy
12. Decency
13. Dignity
14. Empathy: positive deeds that always speak louder than words
15. Engagement
16. Forgiveness
17. Gratitude
18. Helpfulness
19. Honesty
20. Honor
21. Humility
22. Integrity
23. Listening: the greatest decency
24. Openness
25. Peacefulness
26. Pleasantness
27. Politeness
28. Positivity
29. Principle
30. Respect
31. Responsiveness
32. Sensibility
33. Sensitivity
34. Simplicity
35. Softness
36. Tact
37. Thoughtfulness
38. Transparency
39. Truthfulness

Use this shibboleth as a personal and organizational decency accomplishment checklist.

  • Make other additions to this list of things you have already been doing
  • Make this list become a living instrument to help you and those you know, and organizations you belong to commit to a broad array of decent behaviors and higher levels of civility.
  • Develop examples and illustrations of each of these and the ones you add from your own experience.
  • Keep a log.
  • Find opportunities to talk about these activities, beliefs, and ideas where they will motivate others to emulate what you’ve learned to take such pleasure in doing.

Remember, the reverse of any of these words, ideas, or behaviors only lead to trouble, problems, and delayed mitigation and resolution; plus revictimizing those who have been injured.

Let’s talk about it. I’m always interested in helping colleagues perfect their own personal decency pathways. Reach out to me at 203-948-7029 or

James E. Lukaszewski
Americas Crisis Guru®

ABC, Fellow IABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Emeritus (2015) 

Mainstreet Village, 7601 Lyndale Ave S, STE 32, Richfield MN 

Jim’s Wisdom #39: Communicate Intentionally

Over the years, I’ve developed, taught, coached, and advocated a very powerful and helpful communication philosophy. At the same time, this approach defines my ethical approach to life, to work and to trouble. I call these “intentions” because this is how I seek to operate my life, intentionally, every day, teach others to do the same. These intentions build trust, respect, and confidence.

1. Candor – Truth with an attitude, delivered now (the foundation blocks of trust).

  • Disclose, announce early.
  • Explain reasoning and reasons.
  • Discuss options, alternatives considered.
  • Provide unsolicited helpful information.

2. Openness, accessibility – Be available for the disasters as well as the ribbon cuttings.

  • Be available.
  • Be willing to respond.
  • Get out front fast.

3. Truthfulness – Truth is 15% facts and data, 85% emotion and point-of-reference.

  • Point of reference matters more than facts.
  • Factual overload victimizes people and makes them feel stupid, angrier.
  • Too many facts irritate and revictimize.
  • Unconditional honesty, from the start.
  • Get good at reducing emotionally negative situations, subjects, and people behaviors.
  • Emotions always outweigh facts.

4. Empathy – Actions that illustrate concern, sensitivity, and compassion.

  • Actions always speak louder than words.
  • Act as though it was happening to you or someone you care about.
  • Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes in any way is literally impossible, from the victim’s perspective. Avoid it.

5. Responsiveness – Answering questions relentlessly in every situation validates your integrity and preserves your reputation.

  • Every concern or question, regardless of the source, is legitimate and must be addressed.
  • Answer every question; avoid judging the questioner.
  • Answer questions as many times as they are asked.
  • Avoid taking any question personally.
  • Remain calm, wage peace, build followers and be nice, even in the face of anger or aggressive negativity. You anger and arrogance create plaintiffs.
  • Answer questions patiently and repetitively until questions stop being asked.

6. Transparency – End the secrets (because important things and stupid stuff always come out).

  • Our behavior, our attitude, our plans, even our strategic discussions are unchallengeable, positive, and explainable.
  • Our families would be comfortable reading about our actions, decisions, and discussions on the web or the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper.

7. Engagement – Face-to-face is the communications approach desired by just about everyone and every victim.

  • Take aggressive positive interaction with those who challenge us.
  • Our base and those who give us permission to operate expect us to deal with unconvinceables and victims.
  • Prompt direct interactive response, even negotiation, empowers the initiator.

8. Small Decencies

  • Small, voluntary, freely offered acts of courage, kindness, helpfulness.
  • Given, provided, or done without expectation of reward or acknowledgement.
  • A life pattern of simple, spontaneous, utterly decent actions.

9. Destiny Management – It’s your destiny, which only you can manage in your own best interest.

  • Manage your own destiny, or you’ll find someone waiting on the sidelines to do it for you.
  • Relentlessly correct and clarify the record.
  • Prompt, positive, constructive elaboration of the facts preempts critics and empowers employees, supporters and those who give us permission to operate.

10. Apology – The atomic energy of empathy. Apologies stop bad things, and bad things from starting.

  • Acknowledge personal responsibility for having injured, insulted, failed, or wronged another.
  • Explain what happened and the known reasons for the circumstance.
  • Talk about what you and your organization have learned that will help prevent a recurrence.
  • Humbly ask for forgiveness in exchange for more appropriate future behavior and to make amends.
  • Make restitution.

You can call this anything you like: communications policy, guidelines, or manifesto. I like the word intentions because it signifies that we are fully engaged in communicating in the most effective, honest, empathetic, and open manner possible, all the time.

By publicly professing these intentions you will set a standard to which you can be held accountable. This behavior can lead to an extraordinarily interesting, useful, and trustworthy life, and besides, you sleep better at night.

Let’s talk about it. I’m always interested in helping colleagues develop their own personal principles. Reach out to me at 203-948-7029 or

James E. Lukaszewski
Americas Crisis Guru®

ABC, Fellow IABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Emeritus (2015) 

Mainstreet Village, 7601 Lyndale Ave S, STE 32, Richfield MN 

Wednesday Smart Shibboleth #8: Lukaszewski’s Civility and Decency Manifesto: Stopping Incivility In Its Tracks

16 Ways to STOP Incivility Before or After It Starts

The true test of civility is a commitment to verbal and written communication that are predominantly positive and declarative and behaviors that are simple, sensitive, sensible, constructive, positive, helpful, humble, empathetic, and always benefit the recipient more than the giver. Any other pathways lead only to trouble, prolong problems and delay mitigation and resolution. Empathy means positive deeds that speak louder and more constructively than words.

How to STOP Incivility in Its Track

1. When your words, deeds, actions, or intentions turn to vilification, STOP.

2. When you use sarcasm to ridicule and damage, demean, dismiss, diminish. or humiliate, STOP.

3. When your words are arrogant, causing needless but intentional pain and suffering, STOP.

4. When your words clearly express anger and irritation, STOP.

5. When your words, deeds or actions are demanding and bullying, STOP.

6. When your words are just plain mean, STOP.

7. When your words insult, STOP.

8. When your words become corrosive and disrespectful, STOP.

9. When your words become disparaging and tone deaf, STOP.

10. When you speak and behave without empathy, STOP, reconsider.

11. When your words mindlessly injure, STOP.

12. When your words, deeds or actions intentionally injure, STOP.

13. When your words spread accusations and suspicion, STOP.

14. When your words exhibit overbearing and overzealousness, STOP.

15. When what you propose is negative, punitive, defensive. and harmfully restrictive on others, STOP, choose another pathway.

16. When your words exceed the boundaries of decency, civility. and integrity, just simply STOP. Choose another path.

There are so many pathways to civility, decency, and integrity, pick as many as you can.

Start with Powerful Civilities & Simple Decencies: Actions That Defeat Indecency.

– How can I help you?– Please let me help you.
– How nice of you.– Please forgive me.
– I can do that.– Thank you. What can I do for you?
– I’m sorry.– What would be more helpful?
– My pleasure.– Yes.
– Please ask me, I’m ready to help.– You’re welcome.

Let’s talk about it. I’m always interested in helping colleagues develop their own personal principles. Reach out to me at 203-948-7029 or

Coming up in Shibboleth #9: “39 Pathways to Decency”.

James E. Lukaszewski
Americas Crisis Guru®

ABC, Fellow IABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Emeritus (2015) 

Mainstreet Village, 7601 Lyndale Ave S, STE 32, Richfield MN 

Wednesday’s Smart Shibboleths #7: The Platinum Rule: Provide the Help Others Need to Achieve Their Goals and Aspirations

The Platinum Rule is a big step beyond the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule gives you a better today. The Platinum Rule helps you move someone else into their tomorrow. The Ethical and Practical principles I follow support both rules. Share your own version of this approach with others who work with you and people you’d like to work with. Find ways to discuss these ideas, explain them, and ask and answer questions about them. Everyone you care about or those who care about you should be aware of ideas like these. Help them live and learn from their own principles.

The Ethical and Practical Principles That Guide Jim’s Practice

1. Act ethically, promptly, and urgently.

a. Ask better questions than anyone else.
b. Be 15 minutes early.
c. Consistently challenge the standard assumptions and practices of our profession, build its importance, and enhance the ability of all practitioners to better serve others from their perspective. Raise your hand.

2. Do the doable; know the knowable; get the getable; arrange the arrangeable.

a. Expect to be helpful and useful.
b. Focus on what really matters. Apply your ethics audit analysis.
c. Go beyond what those you work with already know or believe.
d. Intend to make a constructive ethical difference every day.

3. Intentionally look at every situation and circumstance from different helpful perspectives

a. Look out for the real victims.
b. Remember, it’s your boss’s “bus.” They get to drive it wherever they want. If you don’t like it, or can’t deal with it, hop off and go to somebody else’s bus, or drive your own.
c. Clarification: Your role on “the bus” is to help the driver drive better. Taking the wheel is out of the question. If you want to take the wheel, get your own bus.

4. Remember that every issue, question, concern or problem is a management or leadership issue, question, concern, or problem before it is any other kind of issue, question, concern or problem. Always start where management and leadership are. Starting somewhere else only leads to trouble, confusion, and failure.

Let’s talk about it. I’m always interested in helping colleagues develop their own personal principles. Reach out to me at 203-948-7029 or

James E. Lukaszewski
Americas Crisis Guru®

ABC, Fellow IABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Emeritus (2015) 

Mainstreet Village, 7601 Lyndale Ave S, STE 32, Richfield MN 

Wednesday’s Smart Shibboleths #6: Establish Your Personal Credentials Quickly with A Useful Professional Profile

The Purpose of A Personal/Professional Profile

One of the most important steps in crisis work is quickly establishing a connection with senior people. Many years ago I developed a personal/professional profile which briefly and succinctly explains: who I am, what I do, how I work, and what I believe. It has always been a conversation starter. Each topic leads to me sharing relevant recent experiences and talking about next possible steps for the client’s problem. It generates questions you need to hear and promptly respond.

Establishing connections at any level, but especially at senior levels, is up to you and the sooner you accomplish it, the more quickly serious work can begin. Fail to connect early makes progress difficult, maybe even impossible.

My Profile

Purpose:Through helping resolve the significant troubles of others, find and do what will be the most important things I will ever do in my career and life.
Vision/Aspiration:To be an authentic trusted Communicator, Coach, Counselor and Strategic Thinker; to be the first call when leaders and managers face their toughest, touchiest, most sensitive and devastating situations. And the last call before taking action.
Mission:To be the table, truly strategic; promptly finding those exceptionally achievable, ethical, honorable, powerful, and sensible ingredients for solutions to the most challenging leadership, management, and organizational problems.
Disciplines:Trustability; Verbal clarity; Management Perspective/sensitivity; Findable, Gettable, Doable, Achievable, Knowable approaches; Tomorrow focused; Thoughtful, incremental advice; Intuition-Pattern Sensitivity; lifelong learning; Teach, Coach, Counsel to inspire and expand Management and leadership influence and success.
Values:Constructive approaches; Curiosity; Honesty; Inconsistency*; Positivity; Pragmatism; Promptness; Truthfulness.
Principles:Candor; Communicate Promptly-Intentionally; Destiny Management; Empathy/Compassion/Apology; Engagement; Openness; Responsiveness; Transparency; Truthfulness.
Passion:Help all staff functions i.e. PR, HR, Law, Security, Strategic planning, etc. be more effective, have critical access, influence, and impact; be sought after earlier and have more productive successful impact and influence on events.

This connection step is so important that if a technique like this one fails to work for you, it’s likely best to help your client find someone they can connect and work with. Be prepared to get out of the way.

Remember, in true crises, where victims are caused, usually only the boss’ job is in jeopardy. They know it. Early connections must happen fast. That means to always act in the client’s best interest rather than yours.

*Inconsistency is the greatest hallmark of strategy and a strategist. It can also be one of the greatest roadblocks to executive decision-making. Most solutions to serious problems involve intentionally thinking differently about results, decisions, and outcomes.

Remember, every senior person believes that they are a better communicator than anybody, even you. They also believe that their communication skills are why they have the job they have. Remember, too, if all you have is information about how the news media works and how reporters behave, most senior people have made up their minds about these topics already. Focus on finding useful, appropriate, and often inconsistent options for them to choose to develop the solutions their problems require.

James E. Lukaszewski
Americas Crisis Guru®

ABC, Fellow IABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Emeritus (2015) 

Mainstreet Village, 7601 Lyndale Ave S, STE 32, Richfield MN 

Jim’s Wisdom #38: Waging Peace, Avoiding Incivility

Bad news is caused by intentionally chosen negative language.

Peace and civility come from intentionally chosen positive language and behavior.

  • How to build a constructive, positive, and happy environment at work, in the community, and home.
  • How to remove the negativity of snipy, nasty, and upset people from your workplace, community, and even your home life.
  • Become obsessed enough to wage peace, eradicate bad language, and have a civil, decent, and productive life.

Waging Peace

The crucial ingredients in civil, decent, helpful, and important communication are positive language and behavior. Yes, it’s that simple, but still extremely hard to accomplish every day all day. Experience shows that one of the most powerful drivers of leadership success is a relentless reliance on positive language. Talking about what to do rather than what not to do.

What’s required first is the eradication of negative language. This step eliminates negative behavior, decisions, and attitudes. How does one really do that? Can peace, tranquility, civility, and decency be that simple to achieve? A passionate commitment to positive language and behavior is challenging and persistently difficult for human beings to commit to. But help is here.

Eradicating Negative Language

When I’m teaching leadership how to get themselves out of trouble our first stop and constant commitment is to remove negativity of every kind from our daily lives, and the lives of others. This is a discipline that requires constant attention. The systematic removal of negativity from our lives will have immediate impact on everyone around you. They will notice. They will notice more when you insist that they too be positive as well and eliminate negativity. And you help them do that every day.

Getting started is the hard part but here’s a tool to help you do that.

Introducing The Bad News Eradicator

The Bad News Eradicator was designed to help eliminate defensive words and negative phrases from your speech, writing, decisions, and actions.

  1. Keep the Bad News Eradicator near you. [Click here to see the complete list of bad news eradicating phrases]
  2. Take it with you when you travel. 
  3. Collect your own set of habitual negative phrases and words to eradicate
  4. Add your negative habits to the eradicator sheet, then create their positive equivalents.
  5. Get a whole new life. Give a whole new life to others.

How to use the Bad News Eradicator

Examples of Bad News Eradication

Negative StatementPositive Change
1. “I can’t comment on what hasn’t happened.”1. “When it happens, I’ll comment.”
2. “I can’t speak for them.”2. “They can speak for themselves.”
3. “I don’t know.”3. “Here’s what I know…”
4. “I wouldn’t say that.”4. “What I would say is…”
5. “It didn’t happen that way.”5. “Here’s what happened.”
6. “It’s never been done before.6. “This is the first time.”
7. “It’s not too expensive.”7. “It’s affordable.”
8. “Let’s not kid ourselves.”8. “Let’s stay focused on what matters.”
9. “Nothing is impossible.”9. “Everything is possible.”
10. “Please don’t hesitate to ask.”10. “Please Ask.”
11. “That’s not a bad idea.”11. “That could be a good idea.”

We’ll publish more soon.

Click here if you’d like to receive all 189 negative language CHANGE examples.

Click here to read: Time to Eradicate Your Bad News.

Click here to read: Time to Eradicate Your Bad News Volume 2.

Click here to read: The Seven Corrosive Powers of Negative Language.

James E. Lukaszewski
Americas Crisis Guru®

ABC, Fellow IABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Emeritus (2015) 

Mainstreet Village, 7601 Lyndale Ave S, STE 32, Richfield MN 

Wednesday’s Smart Shibboleth #5: A Trust and Credibility Shibboleth for Leaders and Organizations

When it comes to credibility and trust, the fundamentally trustable behavior of organizations is reflected in its leadership’s behavior and leadership’s commitment to trustable decisions and actions. 

Management’s Credibility Mantra: Credibility is Conferred On Us Based On Our Past Behaviors. 

These six actionable tasks or assignments, if executed by everyone in the organization, especially by leadership example, will foster trust and credibility, as well as demonstrate extraordinary integrity. 

  1. “When problems occur, we’ll be prepared to talk openly about them and act quickly to respond to them operationally.” 
  1. “If the public should know about an issue or problem which could affect them, we will voluntarily talk about it as quickly and as completely as we can.” 
  1. “When the problems or changes occur, we will keep the community posted on a schedule they set until the problem or changes have been thoroughly explained or resolved.” 
  1. We will answer any questions the community may have and suggest and volunteer additional information on matters the community has yet to ask questions about.” 
  1. “We will be cooperative with the news media, but our primary responsibility is to communicate directly with those most directly affected by our actions as soon as possible.” 
  1. “We will respect and seek to work with those who oppose us.” 

James E. Lukaszewski
Americas Crisis Guru®

ABC, Fellow IABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Emeritus (2015) 

*Shibboleth, Jim’s Definition: practical information you can use today and tomorrow, and lasts a long time. 
Mainstreet Village, 7601 Lyndale Ave S, STE 32, Richfield MN 

Wednesday Smart Shibboleth #4: Destructive Language Decimates Trust

Leadership language choices in difficult situations are often early indicators of the dysfunctional nature of leadership. In fact, their behaviors and language choices are often diagnostic of this dysfunction. Here are some examples to watch for:

  1. Denial
  2. Defensiveness
  3. Deflection
  4. Denigration
  5. Disrespect
  6. Demeaning
  7. Discrediting
  8. Disdain

Not only do these behaviors, attitudes, and language choices destroy trust, they create victims, critics, and angry people, families, and organizations.

These negative examples waste time, often trigger similar even more emotionally negative responses in return, foster contentiousness, confrontation, contempt, confusion, and consternation. These behavior choices are likely to require strong, positive, remedial behaviors.

Watch for the Shibboleth on reputation and trust recovery following a crisis.

James E. Lukaszewski

Americas Crisis Guru®
ABC, Fellow IABC; APR, Fellow PRSA; PRSA BEPS Emeritus 2015

Jim’s Wisdom #37: Your Pocket Decency Manifesto

Starting Back Up The Path To Decency: a Manifesto

Why a manifesto?

Seven big reasons:

  1. To anticipate an answer to the most important questions for those interested in building a decency-based workplace culture, before they are asked.
  2. To trigger and answer in advance the crucial questions you need to see, hear, and resolve. They will be about developing decency, civility, and integrity in your workplace.
  3. To anticipate and answer in advance the questions that bother you most about what’s happening in our culture; the decency denial and deficit in America’s workplaces and in your workplace.
  4. To help you bring your personal views of decency, civility, and integrity from your personal life, family community, and home into your working life.
  5. To reveal the many pathways available to decency, civility, integrity, and trust.
  6. Learn to recognize and prevent the victimization indecency and incivility cause.
  7. Recognize and prevent leadership and management misbehaviors that trigger the incivility, and unconscionable behaviors that contaminate decent and civil culture.

The Pocket Decency Manifesto is your daily to-do list to inspire, to motivate, and to stimulate your energy and efforts in building a decency driven workplace. There are critical ingredients here designed to help you protect, defend, and preserve what you and others achieve along the path to a decency driven workplace.

Good luck.

1. The Nine Pillars Of A Decency Driven Workplace 

Candor: truth with an attitude delivered right now.  
Civility: patience, empathy, curiosity, tolerance. Small decencies. 
Ethics: seek ideal conduct, go the right way first, reject all alternatives and wrong ways. 
Humility: being humble; maintain modest opinion of one’s own importance or rank. 
Integrity: honest consideration and inclusion of other points of view. 
Openness: seeking and promptly addressing the concerns of others. 
Responsiveness: do it now, change it now, fix it now, stop it now, start it now. 
Reticence: resist the corrosiveness of negativity, criticism, and arrogance.  
Trust: Seek the absence of fear because fear is the absence of trust. 

2. The Three Most Powerful Civilities 

Listening: the greatest civility we can show another human being. 
Positivity: the only path to a successful future. All other routes lead only to trouble. 
Small Decencies: the principal ingredients of trust, respect, humility, acceptance, and greatness. 

3. The Most Crucial Ingredients Of A Decency Driven Workplace 

Obsession with civility, decency, humility, integrity, modesty, truth, and trust. 
Walk the talk: in every assembly, communication, conversation, document, event, meeting, proposal, and pitch.  
Immerse every idea, suggestion, attitude, and behavior in decency. 
Interpret everything in the context of civility, decency, integrity, trust, and truthfulness. 
Aggressively block, expose, and eliminate all barriers, interference, reluctance, and disparagement of decency, civility, and humility initiatives.  
Shun those who: belittle, demean, deny, denigrate, disparage, or espouse opposition to decency, civility, and truth. Your destiny is up to you to protect, defend, and preserve. 

James E. Lukaszewski

ABC, Fellow IABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Emeritus (2015) 

James E. Lukaszewski is a well-known writer, author, teacher, scholar, and lecturer in American Public Relations. 
Mainstreet Village, 7601 Lyndale Ave S, STE 32, Richfield MN 

Wednesday’s Smart Shibboleth #3: Manager of First Impressions – The Two-Minute Schmooze

Steve Harrison, one of three founders and Chairman of Lee Hecht Harrison, the world’s leading Talent management company, had just hired a new COO, Ray. He had an MBA and was recently retired from the US Army with the rank of brigadier general.

So he could get to know as many people as possible, Steve took Ray on a tour of the company. At their first branch office stop, Melissa, the receptionist, was on duty.

“How are you, Melissa?” Steve asked.

“Fine. And you, Steve?”

“Great. Have a good day.”

“You too.”

Steve proceeded toward the interior offices, but Ray pulled them back to Melissa’s desk.

After introducing himself, Ray launched a dialogue with Melissa. “How long have you been with us?” “How did you hear about us?” “What did you do before you joined our firm?” “What kind of dog is that in the picture?” “What do you think of this business we’re in together?” The collaborative language was infectious. It communicated that Ray and Melissa were in the enterprise as equal partners. Ray also asked Melissa if she had any questions. He waited, Melissa asked a couple, Ray answered them candidly. Melissa was clearly delighted with the exchange.

Finally Ray said, “Well, nice to meet you, Melissa. Keep doin’ what you’re doin’. I look forward to seeing you next time I’m here.”

With that, Ray and Steve went inside to meet the rest of the staff.

Steve asked Ray, “What was that all about?”

Ray said, “That’s called the two-minute schmooze! Receptionists meet or talk to more people critical to our company in one month than you or I ever do in a year: people at all levels, from all our branches everywhere, our customers, suppliers, colleagues, bosses, applicants, and job seekers. Most of all, receptionists talk to each other. They are a key part of our reputation.”

Ray’s two-minute schmooze is how Steve first learned the power of small decencies, its perfect example of decent leadership and the impact small decencies can have on organizations.

Sometime later Steve authorized LHH receptionists to have business cards with the job title: Manager of First Impressions.

Lee Hecht Harrison is now The LHH Division of Adecco, the world’s largest job placement agency, based in Switzerland. In 2021, Steve and Jim Lukaszewski coauthored the book “The Decency Code: The Leader’s Path to Civility, Integrity, and Trust”, © 2021 McGraw Hill. This story is on pages 46-48.

*Shibboleth, Jim’s Definition: practical information you can use today and tomorrow, and lasts a long time.