I was watching the film Happythankyoumoreplease (which I recommend), when I was introduced to this basic concept. The film bases its title on a scene in which Malin Åkerman‘s character relates some advice she has been given. She suggests the key to life is gratitude; it’s important to give thanks – and how do you do that? By saying “thank you.” Then asking for “more, please.”
I love this concept. It’s so simple. Yet, how often do we really put thought into this in our waking life? Do we mean it when we say, “Thank you”? Do we say it enough? And do we ask for more of the things we want? Please?
Children are always asked to “say the magic word” before they are given what they want. After all, “Gimme, gimme never gets.” Somehow we manage to forget this as we get older and engage with a more hectic world.
- We order people around: “Pass me that handout!”
- We ask in less-than-polite ways, “Did you get that memo done?”
- We tell our friends, “Pick me up at 7.”
It is so important to put a simple “please” in front of our commands and requests. It doesn’t matter if you are in a busy office and you need something “like yesterday” or if you are casually suggesting your friend join you for dinner. Turn these commands into refined requests that allow people to agree, or at the very least acquiesce.
Most of the time, when someone does something we appreciate we remember to thank them. Obvious situations are when you accept something like a gift or invitation – or even when you politely decline such offerings: “No thank you.”
But there are other times we can take advantage of this simple phrase. For example, perhaps we need to unplug from our iPods or walk with our heads up, so we notice when people hold doors and then express our appreciation. Notice when someone steps out of your way, picks up something you dropped for you, gives you a compliment. Smile and express your gratitude – whether verbally or non-verbally. Sometimes it just takes a smile and a nod.
When someone expresses their thanks, be sure to reply with “You’re welcome.” As Emily Post’s Etiquette notes, brushing off a thanks with “It was nothing” is actually taking away value from your actions. Accept the appreciation you’re given.