As someone who is often called "blunt" it might seem a little suspicious that I would be writing a post about etiquette.
There are few things in life one can say that will truly offend me. People who talk down to others is a big one and people having poor or non existent manners is another. Sometimes I wonder if people were raised by wolves because they are so rude.
I'm someone who tends to eat out quite a bit or get my coffee on the outside. When ever I hear patrons beginning their order with "I want" or "Give me" it makes my skin crawl. There is something about the particular sayings and the way in which they are spoken leave so much to be desired. Having never worked as a food server, I can only assume that it is a very common thing to hear and also very irritating. I'm not really sure why people acting like assholes to others bothers me so much, but maybe it's something I need to put on the "speak to therapist" list.
Due to my upbringing I have had to want for little during my lifetime. I understand just how privileged I have been and I am freaking thankful for it all the time. When I was younger and received gifts from people, my parents made me hand write thank you cards to people. Yes, I didn't like it, but having my own personalized stationary that young was a pretty cool thing. Remember that I grew up the product of the 70's and 80's and the whole "preppy" movement was alive and well on the North Shore of Chicago. Suffice it to say that I wrote many thank you cards while I was growing up.
It's funny that one of the things I am known for now is my hand written notes. Of all the people I know, there are only 2 other people in the past few years who I have received hand written letters from. I tend to hold on to these (over birthday cards) because they have some personal meaning to them. The kicker is that for all the personal cards I write, I am terrible at sending or including birthday or holiday cards with my gifts. Weird stuff. Sometimes I wonder if other people get the best of me because what I do for friends and acquaintances, I don't always do for my family.
I'm getting a little off topic, so let me bring it back to simple etiquette.
Saying thank you is a lovely gesture. In fact, I think it is used far too infrequently these days. Not sure when it applies to you? here are a few ideas:
- Ordering a meal, coffee, or really when ever you are interacting with someone who is assisting you in any way. Yes, you are paying them to do it, but that doesn't give you the right to be an asshole.
- When you are leaving a store after browsing but haven't purchased anything. This
really only works in small boutiques, but as I leave I always shout out "Thank you" as I head out the door. Is this weird? Maybe. But for me it would be off for me not to do this.
- When someone has paid for a meal. Yes, this even includes family. Most of the time I am more than happy to take someone out for food. That practice would stop immediately if the person failed to thank me. Even though all my money pretty much comes out of one bank account, I still say thank you to my husband after he has paid a bill or driven us somewhere. Call me crazy, but it's these little acknowledgements that help make a strong relationship even stronger.
- When someone has taken the time to speak to you about their job and, specifically, when they are asking for your help in getting into a certain field. As someone who is mostly known as a sex educator, I get emails every week asking me "How do I do what you do?" I make a point to answer all of them eventually (sometimes I don't answer them right away). I also answer all the questions personally and don't use a pre-existing cut and paste answer. Depending on the depth of the questions, I could spend anywhere from 5 to over 20 minutes responding to someone. Not responding back to me with a simple thank you is really bad etiquette! You will become memorable to me because your lack of simple courtesy. Also, the chances are high that we will never engage in conversation again.
- When you receive a gift, even it is less than great. No matter how lame a gift is, someone has taken at least a few moments in their day to think of you. Don't make them wonder if you ever received the gift. Email, text, or call them to thank them for the lovely delivery. As someone who tends to send a lot of gifts, there is nothing I like more than seeing the person tweet or facebook about their special delivery. I don't need a phone call or a hand written card, but some acknowledgement is really nice.
Having manners matters. It matters if you are in school and have to work with others for group projects, get extensions from your teachers, etc. It also matters when you are dating. I would never, ever go on a second date with someone who was rude to the waitstaff. Furthermore, as a dating coach, I see this type of behavior to be a huge red flag. Manners also matter when it comes to family dynamics. How many of you were brought up to say please and thank you, and maybe you even drill this into your own kids, but fail to do it yourself? Lastly, manners matter when it comes to work dynamics. Even if you are a supervisor, acknowledging the work that others do is really important.
I will end this blog post in the way I have ended many blog posts before. You can thank me later.