You Are Being Watched – Thank heavens!

By Carl Pritchard, PMP, PMI-RMP

You are being watched.  A woman entered the Giant Eagle today, providing elbow support to an elderly man as he gained his balance on a shopping cart.  A driver pulled to a quick stop at the crosswalk in order to allow a family to cross.  A man gave an almost theatrical bow as he held the door for a woman laden with shopping bags.  A driver waved a car into a confusing intersection to clear the road for him. 

All of these people were being watched.  Every last one.

And every one of them sent a powerful message in a time when most messages don’t fall into the category of “civil discourse.”  Civility counts. 

Watching Them

We spend our days interacting with people and forget the joys of civil discourse.  A “thank you” and a friendly nod have power.  Acknowledging a random act of kindness is uplifting for all concerned. 

There are plenty of civil acts to recognize, but we assume that people don’t really need or want that recognition.  Just as we’re quick to “like” a friend’s photo on Facebook, it may be time to provide the human touch when you catch civility in action. 

You see someone working with the Cub Scouts selling popcorn.  Thank them for their service.  The cashier runs after a customer who forgot their birthday card (in the little bag).  Recognize their “extra mile.” 

This will not be a life-changing experience for either of you.  But as a society, it’s a huge step in the right direction.  Commit to two such moments a day.  Responses will range from “Thanks” to “I really needed to hear that today.  I appreciate it.”

But it’s not about the response.  It’s about the opportunity to relive a positive moment.  It’s a chance to relive civility.  Reveling in the milk of human kindness is worth every second.  We don’t want to give out Lucite blocks and challenge coins for every time someone does their job.  But we do want to make it a personal mission to celebrate the ordinary compassion that we encounter in the day-to-day. 

Being Watch-able

And if you’re not seeing the acts of benevolence you hoped to find?  Create them!  Here are ten simple, civil acts that any of us can weave into our day:

  1. Acknowledge the challenges faced by a service worker on a tough day
  2. Go for a two-block walk with a trash bag and a plastic glove in hand…and use them!
  3. Send an e-mail back to a friend who offered sage counsel, thanking them for their insight
  4. Tell a pet owner out for a walk how cute/beautiful/adorable their pet is
  5. Find a manager to tell them one of their employees is doing a good job
  6. In a moment of shopping (or driving) conflict, bow gracefully back and let the other soul go first
  7. When taking a class, tell the instructor how they’re influencing your life
  8. At a gas station, lend a hand to anyone struggling with the pump
  9. If you notice you parked very close, get back in your car and create a foot or two of breathing room
  10. Call a friend or family member and remind them how much you value their friendship

There will be no awards.  There will be no ceremony or public accolades.  There will be moments of infectious civility.  What more can we ask?


Carl Pritchard is an award-winning project manager…but his best awards come from his family, friends and peers who value him in the day-to-day.  He welcomes your comments and insights at