Not long ago, I was asked to write a human-interest piece for a small website that desperately needed content. When the request landed in my email box, I happily responded with a quick, “yes.”
Mind you – I would be writing this gratis, receiving zero compensation for the work. Saddle my back and call me a horse, but I’ve always believed that sometimes you need to give in life as a way of paying things forward.
At any rate, after spending several hours on research and then writing the article, I sent it off to the site for publication. I think it was approximately 900 words.
Several days later, I received an email from the editor. It was very short and read: “Hey, your story is up – here is the link.”
Mind you, the editor didn’t use my name in this correspondence. Nor did his email bother to include the words, “Thank you.”
At first, it didn’t bother me. After all, editors are busy people and often juggle multiple balls at once. But when a new email came in 48 hours later requesting another unpaid submission, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of manners.
“Hi, there! Would you be able to write another piece for the blog – on this issue?” asked the editor – with a hyperlink attached to the word “this.”
As I considered the request, I couldn’t help but notice that again, my name was never used. More importantly, the word “please” was missing from his request. And a “thank you” for the first article was nowhere to be found.
This time, it did bother me.
“Please” and “Thank you” are simple words.
Yet it seems we live in a culture where basic etiquette has gone a.w.o.l. I do not mean to paint with a wide brush. Obviously, this isn’t true of everyone.
But when I reflect on recent interactions with people both electronically and face-to-face, it certainly seems to be the case.
Just yesterday, a young lady in line at the supermarket dropped her wallet. Immediately, I picked it up and handed it to her. She didn’t even offer a smile.
Two months ago, at the dentist’s office, a 20-something-year-old man on crutches was trying to enter the building. I was stunned to see how many people stepped right past him – like he was a ghost. Feeling badly, I decided to hold open the door. He limped through and went into the lobby – offering not so much as a word.
Who knows, maybe I’m just old-fashioned. When I grew up, I was taught that saying “please” and “thank you” were important because they were a demonstration of good manners. The same holds true of addressing a person by his or her name; something that makes a human interaction human.
So, are manners a thing of the past? You’ll have to decide. My own thought is that many people don’t intend to be rude but nonetheless come across this way.
Perhaps it’s a generational thing? Or maybe manners are just too “old school” to be bothered with.
But here is what I believe.
Saying “please” and “thank you” still matter – a lot. Engaging in basic etiquette is a powerful demonstration of gratitude. And you know what else?
Showing good manners is a direct reflection on you.
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