Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Etiquette Tip #2 - It All Starts Here

Please and Thank you. Each of us thinks we're masters at this, no?
Let me ask a few questions...
  • Do you say please and thank you consciously, really meaning it, or is it a rote matter of protocol that barely reaches awareness?
  • Do you always say please and thank you to your loved ones, those you treasure the most?
I encourage you to track your communication behaviors for a day or two. You might be surprised! For example, the DH (dear husband) recently made me aware that while I use these two golden phrases with most folks, I sometimes neglect to use them with him. first, I didn't believe him, but then I started paying close attention. He was right. Here is a classic example: "Hey, hand me that spatula." In the midst of cooking frenzy, this might not seem too impolite. Now compare it with this, "Hey, would you please hand me that spatula?" It's a subtle distinction - the first being an order and the second being a polite request. The DH, being a bit of a rebel type, cringes at the order. If I ask politely, the DH will do most anything for me. He explained that when I give an order, he feels unappreciated. This example highlights a very subtle communication pattern. Nonetheless, these things add up over time. I want the DH to feel much appreciated, so "Would you please pass the sugar, dear?" it is!

My next example is from a recent interchange with a convenience store clerk. He counted back my change. I was impressed, as this skill seems to have vanished. I said to him, "Thank you for counting back my change. That was very helpful." He smiled and said, "Oh, you are very welcome." That tiny moment of engagement lifted my spirits, and I hope his. I could have mindlessly said, "thanks" when I got my change, but would I have meant it? My goal now is to be very conscious with my please and thank yous. This work is not easy - it takes a lot of focus and concentration! I think the work is worth the return.

Ultimately, please and thank you lead us to be ambassadors of good will. For example, the US is experiencing quite a tug -- political, philosophical, environmental, etc. Please and thank you, when given with consciousness and meaning, are simple but important gifts we can share. These two phrases really mean this: I respect you, I value you, I appreciate you.

Please share your thoughts with me. Thank you for reading!


Anonymous said...

Thank you, for commenting on the simple, but important use , of please and thank you. If we sincerely say these two words, it is amazing how good it makes you and the receiver feel.
Woman from Illinois

Allison said...

Think we could start this as a new movement in the corporate world? ;)
It certainly is a lost art everywhere! Thank you for your post on this topic. :)

NM tea lover said...

A lovely posting! These two courtesies can make all the difference in the tone of a relationship. I say please and thank you to my hubby for even the simplest things we take for granted - like taking out the trash, washing dishes after dinner, picking up the mail, or even for that extra hug. Imagine how civil a society we would be with a little extra effort like this. Thanks for the tip, Steph!

John said...

Your DH is one of my living heroes. Someone that's not tried to live their life filled with 'stuff' and has pursued education and growing throughout his life. I thank both of you for living such non-material lifestyles.