When did saying “thank you” become such a difficult thing?

It seems like many of my blogs of recent times have been a bit ranty, indeed I have been on such a rant recently about various things that I should change my name to “Ranty McRant”. Unfortunately (and I know there are eyes rolling and mouses hovering over the backspace button as I write this) this is another of those blogs.

One of the things that has been bugging me a lot recently is the loss of the ability of people to simply say “thank you” for a job well done. I am not talking about in my day to day job: I work in a great job for a great firm for some great clients. What I am talking about is what I perceive as a loss of the ability of people to actually thank each other and be thankful for the things that others do for them.

In restaurants it bugs me to my core when people I am eating with or people at the tables close to me fail to recognise the work that their waiter or waitress does FOR THEM in the filling their glass and bringing their food. How hard is it to say “thank you” when you receive a bread roll or when your chair is pushed in for you? Simply, it is not hard! More to the point it is bad manners of the worst order.

However it is not just in restaurants where I have noticed this issue though: even today I have seen people let other people of the train first, someone open a door for another person and someone ask another person if they needed assistance and at no time did the person / people receiving the benefit of such conduct say a simple “thank you”.

It is just me? Am I surrounded by the rudest people on the face of the planet 24/7? I know that the resounding answer to that question is no. I work with and associate with some of the kindest people in the world and my observations save in one example noted above relate to the conduct of complete strangers. More to the point though these examples of conduct I have seen today are not the only examples I have. I could write a treatise on the examples of this sort of conduct I have seen in the last few years that have formed part of the rant that is the basis of this blog.

What strikes me in my daily interactions with people and my observations of the interactions of strangers is, in the most part, that those interactions are shorter, less cordial and not replete with statements of thanks than they used to be. I think there is a strong argument that the introduction of email and other electronic means as the most regular method of communication between people in place of the phone or face to face interaction has lead to the interactions of people when they are forced to interact face to face becoming less courteous than they used to be.

I am more than happy to be proved wrong on this but I can remember a time before email and other electronic forms of communication when it would be the overwhelming exception rather than the rule when someone would not thank another person for doing something for them however innocuous. Electronic means of communication have to have played a part in the changing demographic I have noted above in my view. It is impersonal for a start and in the most part the messages are short and the messages sent are not ones that give rise to acclamation or thanks. SMS, email, tweets and other forms of electronic messaging are all designed to make the conversation you are having with someone quicker and simpler and shorter.

Now I concede that the pace with which we all live our everyday lives has swiftened to a point that sometimes it is difficult to know what relaxing actually feels like. However is that a reason to be discourteous to each other? I certainly am of the view that it is not. The conundrum is that I am sure that the persons I have adverted to in the examples above are not rude people necessarily rather they have been so ingrained with the habits that electronic forms of communication create that the courtesy that would be considered normal to show has been lost by them.

That being the case and noting the obvious that electronic communication is here to stay, I have no simple solution to this problem. I sincerely hope we do not get to a point in society where saying thank you to people becomes a quaint after thought of a bygone era like, for example, standing when a lady joined a table of diners. Then again I wonder if we are not already there?

All I know is that I am going to continue to say thank you to everyone who assists me throughout a day and continue to be as courteous as I can be. I just hope I am not already being a quaint relic in doing so.

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