One of the followers of Success With Languages, Jonathan Senior, Director of Sharpend Training UK sent this tweet to me a few days ago.
RT @businessgp Beyond English – what is the ‘must have’ business language? < < Ask @hiannie
I have pondered over this question. Although I do not have a perfect answer, I have experienced many situations where I get upset or puzzled when people do not say ‘Please’ or ‘Thank you’. These words “Please” and “Thank you” are great to use in many situations. And they are even easier to translate into several languages.
Unfortunately, you will find people not ready to use these words when the situation beckons. A female friend of mine who works as a flight attendant relates an incident during a flight to Singapore.
A young man and his friends had brought ‘5’ boxes of doughnuts with them for the flight back to Singapore. As they were the last to board the plane, the luggage compartments were all packed. They spent time opening and closing the overhead compartments, and never once looked towards the flight attendants for assistance. The flight was full. One of the flight attendants offered to help but was given a blank look. There was no ‘Please’, just a blank look and the young men kept on opening and closing the overhead compartments. Finally, a flight stewardess found a small spot for them to put their doughnuts. After placing the doughnuts into the compartment safely, they were seated. There was no ‘Thank you’.
Upon arrival, all the passengers moved calmly out of the plane. The young men too walked towards the exit, forgetting that they had left their boxes of doughnuts. The flight stewardess who had helped them earlier reminded them about their belongings. They were ready to leave that behind as they turned briefly back into the plane, glancing across the emptied compartments. They gestured that they did not mind leaving them behind. What! Five boxes of doughnuts!
In case you are wondering why the flight attendants always wait at the exit or apparently stand aside allowing you to pass the aisle, they cannot be responsible for collecting your personal belongings when you disembark the plane. So, these young men were actually ready to leave the plane without taking the doughnuts!
My friend was going around collecting headsets and tidying up the backseat pockets. At this point in time, all the passengers had already left the airplane. All the overhead compartments were opened and emptied, except for one, which contained the boxes of doughnuts. My friend lifted her head towards the young men as she was bending over to tidy the seats up. She pointed a finger at that compartment and said, “There they are.”
The young men promptly went to take their boxes of doughnuts, walked out through several seats before leaving the plane. There was no “Thank you.”
Is it so difficult to say ‘Thank you’ and ‘Please’? Or is it because people are in so much of a hurry to get things done that they cannot take a moment to say ‘Thank you’ or ‘Please’. Like in the case of the young passengers on the flight. So what if people are strangers in the same room? It does not hurt to say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’.
Be it for a social or business purpose, ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ are must have in any circumstances. Aah. Having said that, I do think you should also read another post I wrote regarding the use of the word ‘Please’. Click here to read “Please is not A Magic Word.”