The 10-5 Rule for Civility

In today’s Pinkcast, Dan Pink interviews Christine Porath, a Georgetown University professor and author of Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace. In the interview, Porath shares a remarkably simple technique for deepening respect and promoting belongingness in any setting. In other words, how to be more civil and kind.

Porath notes that civility is simply creating an environment where people feel respected, feel valued, and have a sense of belonging. In such an environment people are more productive, more focused, more creative, and more helpful.

The technique is known as the “10-5 Rule”, and here is how it works. If you’re within 10 feet of someone, make eye contact and smile. And, if you’re within 5 feet, say hello.

That’s it, it doesn’t get much simpler than that. Here’s the video of Dan’s interview with Christine:

Wednesday, November 13 is World Kindness Day; it seems like a great day to try out the 10-5 rule.

By the way, if you would like to learn more about Christine’s work, here is her TED Talk about being respectful in the workplace:

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33 thoughts on “The 10-5 Rule for Civility

  1. I don’t know anything about the 10-5 rule, but one doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that the civility in our society is lacking. Being civil seems like a no-brainer to me, but if things such as this help people to act decent and polite, I’m all for it. Politics is not the only area where human decency is lacking, but a common one where it seems to rear its ugly head. I have friends on both sides of the political aisle that have lost friendships with others. That seems incredibly sad to me.


  2. I hope that I naturally do this, but am sure that I don’t always. something to think about. we need as much civility as we can get right now


  3. I think lots of people follow that rule without realising it. Probably easier in less crowded places. If you’re going for a walk along the cliff top or country path people do say hello. People do smile at strangers – unspoken remarks when we are looking at the same thing – cute dog or child or who’s that idiot talking too loudly on the bus. If you’re working with customers or passengers a smile is no effort and does go a long way even if they don’t speak the same language.


  4. I never heard the term before but I already did some of the tips before reading this. It’s a hit or miss… I hate when it becomes a miss. That’s when people ignore me and I feel like an idiot.


    1. I think it’s mostly common sense. And yes, it is embarrassing when we acknowledge someone and they completely ignore us. Glad to know it’s not just me!


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