The Magic of Politeness
Ask any child “What’s the magic word?” and they’ll probably respond “please.”
Most of us were taught to use “please” when asking for something and to say “thank you” when we got what we asked for. Yet I very rarely see those words used by ‘adults’ – especially when communicating online.
So what happened? When did we forget to be polite? When did common courtesy become a rare trait?
I’m not sure about the answer, but I do know we can all benefit from being more polite to each other.
Online doesn’t mean uncivil
I’ve monitored and moderated several forums and chat rooms over the years. Through observation and practice, I’ve learned that a polite request is much more likely to get the desired result then a demand.
Oh sure, you’ll get a few people that won’t respond to anything anyway – they’re only around to cause trouble. But with the majority of people, if you’re polite to them and treat them with respect, they respond in kind.
What’s so magical?
So what’s magical about “please” and “thank you”?
“Please” is actually short for ‘may it please you’ and “Thank you” implies gratitude.
Both are used to indicate that the gift, service, or request asked for is not a compelled gift (and thus a sign of lower status), but a free gift (and a sign of comparable status).
By using these terms, we show that we consider the other person our equals. And let’s face it; no one likes feeling inferior, especially when trying to help someone.
Spread the politeness
Politeness, respect and courtesy – these are highly contagious.
I’m reminded of a recent TV advertisement where a mom is pushing a baby in a stroller and the baby drops his toy. A stranger walking along behind the mom picks up and returns the toy. This starts off a chain of events where a person observing the random act of kindness performs their own.
I’ve noticed this behavior on line as well. All it takes is one person being polite and courteous while chatting and others will follow the example.
So while it may not seem like a big deal, using “Please” and “Thank you” can make all the difference.
Thanks for reading!