The Lost Art of Saying “Thank You”

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

Voltaire

image “Thank You”; in thoughtful and considerate families, one of the first set of words children learn as they struggle to absorb language. A phrase that signifies much more than is apparent at first glance.

Just yesterday for example, I watched as two small children exited the Bus I was on (accompanied by their mother of course), and as they left, they both turned to the Bus driver and said – “Thank You.”

“Thank You” is not some antiquated, chivalrous idea. Instead, these are the words we use to express gratitude – a kindness for a kindness. Simply put, these two words are a form of providing positive feedback. And which one of us doesn’t need positive feedback?

In my view, those who are unable, or unwilling, to express gratitude,  are generally unaware that they might as well have a sign hanging over their heads, stating:

I lack class.

I lack  empathy.

I lack humility.

Personally, I’m a firm believer in the “mirror imaging effect” – you get reflected back to you, what you give out. So, I make it a practice not to waste my time, and deplete my energy, on people who lack class. Life really is too short, to waste time on the rude and ignorant.

I can hear you saying, “but Bill, this is a tech Blog, why are you writing about good manners?” Well, here’s why.

I have a personal relationship with scores of Bloggers, and while the majority love what they do, I have yet to meet one who hasn’t been disappointed at the lack of a “Thank You”, after taking the time to provide a thoughtful and prompt answer, to assist a reader struggling with a technical computer issue.

This lack of elementary courtesy seems to becoming more of an issue than in the past. I am hearing this complaint more frequently – particularly from those tech Bloggers whose “‘real world” job is a computer technician, since they are providing technical assistance they would normally charge for.

I can only imagine the type of answer one might receive after asking a lawyer, doctor, or an auto mechanic for free advice. I think stony silence might be the likely outcome!

Let me be clear – this article is not a personal complaint. I am delighted with the community that has grown up around Tech Thoughts. In the years I have been writing this Blog, I have received much more than my share of thanks.

But the consensus seems to be, amongst my blogging associates, that far less than 50% of those that they have helped, have responded with those magic words. So do me a favor. If a Blogger has taken the time to answer your question, provided you with advice, or assisted you in solving a technical problem, say those magic words.

Hit that reply button in your email client.  Say “Thank You”. It’s easy, it’s simple, and it says more about you than you might realize.

BTW – thank you for reading this article.  Smile

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42 Comments

Filed under Windows Tips and Tools

42 responses to “The Lost Art of Saying “Thank You”

  1. Thank you for your continued effort in keeping many of us updated on all things new and those old items worth revisiting. Mornings are complete till your email arrives.
    THANKS

  2. Bill,
    What a great article… I teach a Crisis Prevention Class (dealing with uncooperative or disruptive people) and the statement you reflected, about the “mirror imaging effect” – you get reflected back to you, what you give out”, is the core principle of the class. Again GREAT ARTICLE…

    THANK YOU (and yes I am shouting that)…

    Rick

    • Hey Rick,

      Thanks. Funny how there are some who don’t see that relationship. That, always amazes me.

      BTW, Good to see your Ravens are still in it. Great game least week!

      Best,

      Bill

  3. Bill,

    Also, I plan to use that quote “you get reflected back to you, what you give out” (if you do not mind) when explaining the “mirror imaging effect”.

    Thank you,

    Rick

  4. Mike Hunt

    thank you Bill. 🙂

  5. Muncher

    Well that reminds me, Bill, that I sent you an email a week or so and then I got busy and forgot to reply to your replay. So, I first apologize for my thoughtlessness and second want to thank you for the prompt attention you gave my email. Thank you.

    • Hi Muncher,

      That was a super email you sent. It drove me to investigate one of the Net’s most curious kerfuffles (the Adobe freebie error/maybe? for those who missed it).

      So hey, “thank you”. 🙂

      Best,

      Bill

  6. clas

    hahahha…atta boy, bill, shake the tree a bit. i agree wholeheartedly. people just dont care. i stopped doing emails with many people who respond with a couple words after i write a well-thought-out, detailed answer to their query. but thats the future they want so its easy to just ignore people who lack the class of a thank you. besides, a rant now and then is great for the soul!! hahahh

  7. Omri Guttman

    How right you are. I’ll take this opportunity to say thanks. I definitely enjoy the blog and find it useful.
    BTW, I write a movie review blog, and now that I think about it, every time I receive a response I’m quite pleased – it’s much like somebody saying “thank you”.

  8. Bill,
    This is a great article on a subject near and dear to my heart. I give a thank you to everybody who does something kind for me…for three reasons: it costs me nothing; it makes the person being thanked feel good; and it makes me feel good. On another related subject: when many people are complimented, they feel awkward and don’t handle their response to the compliment well. A simple “thank you” is the most appropriate response to a compliment that can be given.
    BTW, I think it’s great to have a non-tech article once in a while. Keep up the good work.
    Best,
    Paul

    • Hi Paul,

      You’ve hit on the most salient point (when one says the magic words) – at least for me – “it makes me feel good”.

      Quick story on kindness (well, maybe not so quick). 🙂

      A few weeks ago as I dashed into the grocery store at 7 am, realized I didn’t have a quarter for the shopping card. As I vocalized my disappointment (in less than family friendly words) – 7 (yes 7) fellow shoppers, reached into purse or pocket and offered the money. What a beautiful experience that was. Given the breakdown in civility which surrounds us all, you can bet that I repeat this story whenever I have the opportunity.

      Maybe not quite a parable – but, it was an eye-opening experience.

      Best,

      Bill

  9. Bob Slyker

    Hey Bill,

    Appreciation, gratitude and empathy have been deemed passé

    We have on our hands a narcissistic culture filled with Self-esteem and seriously lacking in personal development and Madison Avenue Marketing hasn’t helped

    …after all; your worth it
    …get the car/house/vacation that you deserve

    I once fixed a relatives computer, A laptop that had become a “dead stick”
    Fixing it was quick (I got lucky) the software house-cleaning on the other hand for this “device” took me 8 hours.
    It was 89-C at my desk when I began and was 89 when I finished (and I hate the heat). That was 18 months ago, the little darling has yet to say, text or email me a Thank you

    I think “Ben” said it rather well;

    “We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”

    “If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.”

    “Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle.”

    “Many people die at twenty five and aren’t buried until they are seventy five.”

    And the literary evidence of his genius
    “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
    ― Benjamin Franklin

    Oh; By The Way, Thank You!

    Best,

    Bob

    • Hey Bob,

      You’ve encapsulated the current state of affairs nicely. Sad really.

      Yeah, Ben could wield the pen like a sword alright. And, by the look of him – he knew something about my favorite brew. 🙂

      Had the opportunity, many years ago, to worship at this grave down in Philly. A man worth worshiping, I think.

      Best,

      Bill

  10. John

    Hi Bill,
    Yes you are spot on with your comments!

    And yes it is we who should THANK-YOU for your never say die attitude towards the crooks of this world in keeping the bastards honest well trying to. 🙂

    Cheers,
    John

  11. Well, THANK YOU for writing this. I really like to see there is still people who care about those “small details” the world is starting to lose.

    Once again, thank you for your time when reading this reply! =)

  12. Hex

    Well said, Bill. Telephone use & letters are similar, in that it takes some practice to use them politely. I also wonder if a creeping sense of entitlement in modern society, coupled with the a relatively young tech crowd & that absence of face to face contact in on line exchanges contribute to the frequent lack of courtesy.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Hex

    • Hi Hex,

      ” I also wonder if a creeping sense of entitlement in modern society…….” I’m definitely on-side with your observation. I see that everywhere.

      Good to see you here.

      Best,

      Bill

  13. hipockets

    Hey Bill –

    A few years ago I was confronted with a double barreled shot gun held about 6 inches from my nose by a drunken teenager.

    I extricated myself ( rather slowly ! ) from the situation and immediately called the police.

    The two police officers who responded to my call entered the building not knowing what they might face or what might happen.

    As it turned out, the teenager had dropped the gun and left the building.

    Ever since, whenever I see a police officer I always approach him or her and say, “Thank you for being you and for having the job that you have. We need more people like you!”

    I do the same for anybody in our Armed Forces.

    The sad thing about this is that two people have made fun of me for doing so.

    Oh – By the way – thanks for the work you put into your website!

    Now it’s about time for me to be thankful for Uncle Ben and have another beer. :>)

    • Hey Hipockets,

      Wow!! Now that’s terrifying – in the extreme.

      Similar story – sort of. Caught 3 burglars in my neighborhood – delayed them until Police arrived (in massive force). Received a Civilian Citation, event reported in newspapers – all that jazz.

      Next day at the office – 50+ employees called me out – should not have gotten involved (and, much laughter). So yeah – people laughing at you for doing the right thing? I hear ya loud and clear. Water off a duck’s back though. 🙂

      Best,

      Bill

  14. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    You’ve definitely struck a nerve here judging by the number of responses so far. Clearly a lot of people are on board with this. I think it would be interesting to take an age-poll of your respondents. It seems that so much of what my generation was brought up to regard as simple good manners, has gone by the board.

    Every generation despairs of the following one, and we have seen huge shifts in society with social media and the like. It seems that everything now has to be reduced to a bare minimum, I quote “text speak” as but one example.

    “Please” and “thank” you are so fundamental to the lubrication of society, that they must never be allowed to become unfashionable. One of the nicest quotes I came across when Startpaging this subject (I don’t Google, thank you), was “good manners are contagious”; another way of putting what you’ve pointed out in the article.

    So thank you, Bill, for this timely reminder to all of us to remember our Ps and Qs (what the hell does that mean – must Startpage it). No matter how good-mannered we think we are, we are all guilty of the occasional lapse, whether actual or perceived.

    Kind regards
    John

    • Hi John,

      Just so – “Please” and “thank” you are so fundamental to the lubrication of society, that they must never be allowed to become unfashionable.”

      As for an age related poll – I’d be afraid to do one. 🙂 “Good manners are contagious” – as you point out. Still, my recent experience with older people (being one myself), has eroded any confidence I had that older folk are more gracious. It may well be that bad manners are also contagious. And that, is one hell of an indictment of where we are. But then, I’m a cynic – writ large. 🙂

      Best,

      Bill

  15. Dave McDade

    You’re Welcome Bill! Thank you very much!

  16. I would like to Thank You too Bill for all your thoughtful and helpful posts.

  17. One day if we live long enough, or, are able to go back in time far enough, we may even hear our politician say nice things about each other when they do something good for this great country and those of us who are fortunate enough to live in it.
    We may even see an Elephant thank a Donkey and vice versa.
    Thank You, two little words that when said in earnest, can change the outlook of the world.
    One other thing to remember: It is nice to be important but, it’s more important to be nice.

    • Hi Bob,

      My Lord – if only! How hard can it be?

      Super quote, BTW. I’ll use that as tomorrow’s “Quote”. So, are ya ready 🙂 – Thank you.

      Best,

      Bill

  18. Reblogged this on former UNC Sabreman and commented:
    Hits the nail right on the head. Working in the industry for 17 years now, i’ve seen this time and again, much to my disappointment. I agree with the general sentiment: I will not waste any time or effort on discourteous people.

    Basic etiquette and courtesy should be the norm, not the exception…

  19. Chris J

    It’s amazing just how far someone will go to help you if you are polite and kind to them. In fact, the reverse is true – I often find myself going the extra mile to help someone who has asked nicely for assistance.

    How we treat others dictates how others will treat us – not a bad mantra to live by….?

  20. delenn13

    Hear! Hear!

    Ditto on the word “Please”.