Do you say it enough?

What’s the magic word? What do you say? These are common questions we ask kids as we teach them the two important words. Technically one of them is actually a two-word phrase: thank you and please. I’d say many of us adults often need the reminder to use the magic words.

Pass the salt, give me that book, put that away…we’re too frequently giving orders. I remember a former boss once said words that stuck with me “Don’t expect a pat on the back for doing your job. 100% is what is expected from you. When you underachieve be sure you’ll get the punishment due. If you get 130% or more is when you are deserving of reward.” Not the best way to inspire your employees. We may not say the same thing in words but we demonstrate it almost daily. How, you ask? Read on. 

We cease to use the magic words for a number of reasons. The first is that we believe it is the other person’s job or duty. Secondly we tend to feel entitled and therefore see no reason to thank someone or request them to do something they must do for us; it is our right. Reason two is very connected to the first. The main issue is that we take people for granted; the saddest reality being that it is the people closest to us that we often take for granted. At home and at work.

Think about it, we can more easily say please and thank you to strangers than to people we live and work with every day. Why say thank you to the tea girl who brings your regular cuppa at 10? It is her job after all. Just as it is the job of the office assistant to make copies. Why say please iron that for me my dear or thank you for cooking? After all those are part of her wifely (or girlfriend) duties.

They are not called magic words for nothing. There is something about saying them that brings a smile on the other person’s face, that warms their heart and strengthen’s their resolve to become better at it because they know they are not invisible and are appreciated. When they aren’t around is when we notice that they play a big role, that we need them and are affected by their absence. Imagine when the tea girl is on sick leave and for days your cup of tea is but a memory. That’s when you ask about her and when she returns you are so thankful. Or when your wife is away on a work trip so you have to figure out what to eat and where everything in the kitchen is.

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When we say thank you what we are really saying is not only that I appreciate your efforts but that I see you, I value you, you mean something in my world. Believe it or not, that is the magic it does. The other person feels appreciated and you feel good too. Even if for just that moment because you can’t be cross when you say thank you. Saying thank you fans the spirit of gracefulness within us. Every human being wants to know that their life is meaningful and their efforts are appreciated. So when hubby does the dishes, even though he doesn’t do it as thoroughly as you do or he doesn’t wipe down all the kitchen counters, see how we smiles when you say thank you. And he’s more likely to do it again when you appreciate it. He buys a dress one size too small or too big, the important thing is that he thought of you and put himself through the difficulty of finding something for you. Say thank you and the next day he may go back and get the right size.

Manipulation? Not at all. It’s all about what you choose to focus on. The thought behind the act and the act itself or a few errors in execution.

Try it this week and see if it doesn’t start up some magic in your home and workplace. Every time someone does something for you remember to pause, make eye contact and say thank you. Even if it is in their job description. And by the way, mumbling it as you continue typing furiously on your computer or as you stare fixedly at the tv won’t do it. Before you go to bed think of one thing you can thank your spouse for. A happy spouse is equal to a happy home and a happy co-worker makes the workplace a more tolerable place to spend most of your day. Plus you know what they say about what goes around comes around.

I start my week by thanking you for reading this article. Have a thankful week, won’t you! 🙂

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