David Hume, the Scottish philosopher writes in a 1758 essay (“Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary”) that the practise of civility in conversations is essential to “curb and conceal that presumption and arrogance, so natural to the human mind.”
In “Eight or Nine Wise Words about Letter-Writing”, an essay published in 1890, we read a practical, and valuable lesson from Lewis Caroll on civil conversation — “don’t try to have the last word!”
Lewis writes: “How many a controversy would be nipped in the bud, if each was anxious to let the other have the last word! Never mind how telling a rejoinder you leave unuttered….remember ‘speech is silvern, but silence is golden’!”
Mahatma Gandhi, in Chapter 147 of his unabridged autobiography (“An Autobiography or My Experiments with Truth”) gives us a gem.
“Civility does not here mean the mere outward gentleness of speech cultivated for the occasion, but an inborn gentleness and desire to do the opponent good.”