Conversation = civilization

August 26, 2008
Shel Silverstein reads Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein reads Shel Silverstein

My niece learned to read this year and she is gobbling up everything she can find. In my ongoing quest to be the coolest, hippest — and therefore her favorite — aunt, I scoured through my boxes of books to find her some old treasures I used to love. I stopped when I found A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein. She’s going to flip when she reads this stuff! Anyway, I ran across a poem I had forgotten:


If we meet and I say, “Hi,”
That’s a salutation.
If you ask me how I feel,
That’s consideration.
If we stop and talk awhile,
That’s a conversation.
If we argue, scream and fight,
That’s an altercation.
If we later apologize,
That’s reconciliation.
If we help each other home,
That’s cooperation.
And all these ations added up
Make civilization.

(And if I say this is a wonderful poem,
Is that exaggeration?)

—Shel Silverstein

Sure, the target audience here may have been children, but I work for an organization that could sometimes use a little reminder about how this stuff works. Do you, too? Conversation, consideration, communication, celebration… what other “ations” should we apply to help the civilization (and plain old civility!) in our workplaces?