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12 April 2016

Please - say "Thank you!"

Among the first things parents drum into their children's heads are the words please and thank you. Parents do such a good job that these words become automatic, and, to a great extent, they become white noise. If they are used automatically, without conscious thought, what good are they? Do they mean anything? Why do we insist children use them, even if they don't mean what they say?

Human interactions are more complex than they appear. Unlike the parts of well-oiled machines we often have trouble working with each other. Instead of smooth, machined gears, we are more like rough, unsynchronized cogs. Polished gears require only a touch of light oil for lubrication, but to function socially humans need thick grease, and a lot of it. This essential lubrication is provided by accepted norms, manners, and etiquette, a good part of which is provided by little words like please and thank you, and by other nearly involuntary responses. (The ticket agent says, "Have a good trip!" and your programmed response is "You too!")

The odd thing is, even though these common words and actions should have no meaning because they are reflexive, they are essential. Even when said without forethought, we hear them and respond to them.

Obviously, please and thank you serve different purposes. We use please when we want something, and we use thank you to acknowledge receipt or completion of something of value. The former softens the blow of a direct order, asking for voluntary cooperation, while the latter expresses gratitude for something already done. Both are useful and appreciated, but thank you appears to be more an option because you no longer need anything. Unfortunately, because it doesn't help fulfill an immediate need, thank you is more likely to be forgotten.

If you had to choose one or the other, thank you would be the one to keep. Please may prompt immediate action, but thank you, by giving value to what has been done, will encourage future cooperation. An added bonus is that thank you can cause the omission of please to be forgotten. In other words, you may be able to get away without please, but you must never forget thank you.

This just happens to be a time when you have the opportunity to thank members who have made important contributions to our members. Each year, CSI at all levels presents awards to acknowledge the work of individuals and committees. Think about the members of your chapter and region; I'm sure you can identify at least one person who has made a significant effort to improve our organization. Before you do anything else, call that person and express your thanks! Then contact the chair of your awards committee (or any board member) and describe what this person has done.

In the future - starting now! - remember that awards are not earned just in the spring. Pay attention throughout the year to what other members are doing. Again, express your thanks personally, and then make sure your awards committee knows about it. And don't forget non-members!

More information about Institute awards and honors. Hurry; submittals are due 6 May!

More thoughts about awards: Why have Awards and honors? How many awards should we have?

CSI Honors acknowledge those whose contributions are Above and beyond...

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