“PLEASE AND THANK YOU, THEY’RE CALLED THE MAGIC WORDS. IF YOU WANT NICE THINGS TO HAPPEN, THEY’RE THE WORDS THAT SHOULD BE HEARD.”
These are lyrics from a song sung by Barney the Dinosaur and his sidekick kids in a children’s show my daughter and I watched faithfully when she was growing up.
And, I think there’s a lesson in these lyrics for adults too…especially as civility and respect have gone the way of the dinosaur–pun intended–in some workplaces.
The Barney song starts out by saying:
“There are lots of things we can do to be nice, sometimes they’re hard to remember, but there are two little things you should never forget from January through December. He’s talking about please and thank you….”
What wonderful words of wisdom for the workplace! Sometimes it IS hard to be as positive and polite as we’d like to be with our hectic schedules. We might make a request a little more brusquely than we intended, inadvertently invoking the you’re-not-the-boss-of-me reaction. Or, in our overwhelm, we might refuse a request more rudely than respectfully.
Adding a “please” or “thank you” to our conversations doesn’t take a lot of effort but it sure does make a crucial difference in how positive our message sounds.
Consider these statements…with and without “please.”
“Give me the update by 5pm:” vs. “Please give me the update by 5pm.”
“Send us the information.” vs. “Send us the information please.”
“Pets are not allowed” vs. “Please note that pets are not allowed.”
The same positive impact can be imparted using “thank you” or “thanks.” Consider these comparisons in common conversations. Also, note that including “thank you” can be a powerful way to say “no” nicely.
“How are you doing today?”
“I’m fine.” vs. “I’m fine, thanks.”
“Would you like to join our committee?”
“No, I can’t.” vs. “Thanks for asking however I can’t.”
“Do you need anything else?”
“No, I don’t” vs. “No thanks.” vs. “I’m all set. Thank you for your help.”
When I do keynotes on my newest communication topic “How to Maintain High-Touch Relationships in High-Tech Times” I suggest doing a “please-and-thank-you” check along with the usual spell check. In other words, review your email or text to make sure that you’ve included at least one of these magic words. It makes the message more personable. “Please” and “thank you” can put warmth into our words when the humanness gets lost via email.
By the way, I suggest that we totally diss, dismiss and disregard the dismissive and damaging passive-aggressive use of “please” and “thank you” that seems to be developing these days. Much to my dismay, there are some people who choose to flippantly throw a “please and thank you” on the end of an otherwise demanding and disrespectful command, even as they assume compliance. I do hope that you’ll use “please” and “thank you” for good, and not for evil as exemplified here:
“Get those boxes for me. Please and thank you.”
“I need your report immediately. Please and thank you.”
I hope that you’ll use these magic words to convey a more positive message. I hope you’ll use them to take one small step toward more civility in the workplace. I hope you’ll use them to work together better.
As Barney the Dinosaur says in his song:
Sarita Maybin is an international speaker, communication expert and author whose audiences have fun learning how to stay positive, constructively confront tough communication situations and work together better.
During her 20+ years as a speaker, Sarita has spoken in ALL 50 states as well as Puerto Rico, Mexico, Jamaica, Canada, England, Asia, Iceland…and on the prestigious TEDx stage. Her clients include Hewlett Packard, Kaiser Permanente, Los Angeles County, Department of the Navy and University of California, among others.