The Simplicity of Please and Thank You

yes please thank you

The simplest words, Yes, Please, and Thank You

By: Justin Ferguson

Please and Thank You, arguably some of the first words most of us learn.  These words are simple in their nature but extremely powerful.  So, why are they sometimes abandoned?

The answer to that last question will forever be a mystery, one could surmise why this may be – being in a hurry, improper child rearing, lack of manners, or any number of other reasons.  For each of us, it is our individual choice how we decide to communicate with our fellow human.  None of us are ever perfect, as perfection is simply a goal to strive for, but by choosing to try to reach perfection when it comes to please and thank you, we will make society a better place and we will live aSmarterWay.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary:  “We use please to make a request more polite” and “We use expressions with thank you to respond to something politely and to show we are grateful for something

We use please and thank you to be more polite in our dealings with others.  However, by being more polite, people are more apt to respond favourably to your request of them.  Therefore, the use of please and thank you have an absolute power to convince others to help you do something.  Although, I think this is generally accepted as true, it can be even more the case when people are not used to being treated politely.   This is something leaders must remember; it is easy to bark orders and in the Prince, Machiavelli teaches that it better to be feared than loved, specifically stating: “It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with.”

The linkage to Machiavelli is not provided as a point of contention, nor is necessarily an endorsement of his teachings.  However, it is used, as many prescribe either consciously or sub-consciously to this principle.  What this teaching does not however say is that one cannot be polite in their dealings.  Therefore, one does not need to bark orders to be feared but rather could be both feared and polite.  In fact, it could be suggested that a leader who is polite and respectful will receive better cooperation from those they are trying to motivate.  To take this a step-further, I will suggest a good leader does not need to motivate by fear at all because they will be self-aware to understand that they are in fact already feared.  Therefore, allowing them to be loved, which may be how one can achieve both qualities Machiavelli describes.

However, back to the simplicity of saying please and thank you.  I am often brought into help on a project where there is a disconnect between a leader(s) and their team, or simply the leadership team as a whole.  One of the first things I notice, is there has been a breakdown in communication within the team and/or there has been a loss of respect, both of which can happen for all sorts of reasons.   Although, there can be a lot of steps that need to be taken to get a project back on track, one of the first is to try to regain a level of decorum and re-open those communication channels.  Often, it can easily start by simply being polite and genuinely saying those first words we learned – please and thank you!

If we all strive to be perfect when it comes to please and thank you, we will live aSmarterWay!

Justin Ferguson is the Principal of Cosmos Strategies, the Founder of, an avid marathoner, a supporter of charities, including: Wake Up Narcolepsy and Sick Kids Hospital, and a believer that anything is possible.