What ever happened to "Please" and "Thank you?"

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Thanks to my assistant being on vacation, I managed to show up at the airport five hours early for my flight this morning. With time to kill, I started walking around, and came across a Wendy’s. Knowing my burger chain trivia, I knew that Wendy’s serves burgers at any time of the day, even at 5:20am.

It's not fast food! It's an airport!

The Airport Wendy’s of Burgerdom

Ordering a single, as opposed to a triple, out of courtesy to my nutritionist, I waited for my order, and watched the three people after me order. Here’s what was said:

“Gimmie a #2 with a Large Coke.”

“You got any biscuits? Yeah? Gimmie 2.”

“Large coffee, one egg and cheese.”

What’s missing from all three transactions?


When did we blatantly lose all our manners? When did we become, essentially, cavemen and women, grunting our requests and not even recognizing the efforts of those who grant them? It’s a sad, sad day for manners.

As I look around the airport, I see it everywhere – At gate D2, there’s a mad rush to get on the plane, as if you miss the first five minute boarding window, you won’t ever board again. And we know what causes this – The rush for overhead space, with every idiot bringing on as much as they possibly can in a carry-on that’s too big to begin with.

The person standing dead-center-middle of the moving sidewalk, so no one can pass him on either side. Perhaps we just didn’t know it was his moving sidewalk, not everyone’s.

The funny thing is, society’s lack of manners can actually benefit those who still have them in countless ways. I’ve gotten more flight upgrades than I can count, simply by being the really nice guy on line behind the douchebag. When he leaves, I greet the agent with a knowing “sorry you had to deal with that” smile, say “please” and “thank you,” and boom, I’m in seat 1A.

I was exiting an elevator yesterday, and allowed the woman next to me to exit first. As she walked out and said “thank you,” I said, “you’re welcome, Marianne.” I had looked at her name tag as she was exiting.

She came up to me at the end of my speech and said “You know, I just have to tell you, you’re the first person to call my by my actual name all day! That was so thoughtful!”

Why do we wear name tags at conferences if we don’t plan on calling people by their names?

People blame our lack of manners on our “rushed” society, where we’re constantly looking down at our Blackberries and iPhones, and not communicating. When it comes down to it, though, I think we’ve just stopped caring. And that’s kinda sad.

We’ve turned into an “I’ll get mine,” society, where we only seem to care about ourselves. And strictly speaking from a business perspective, is a guaranteed way to go bankrupt. It’s common knowledge that acting different than everyone else is a good way to get noticed. So here’s my challenge to you:

Go out of your way today to use good manners to a customer or client, someone serving you, and a friend. Watch the reaction. Then do it again tomorrow. Try it for a week or two. You’ll be amazed. You’ll see differences in your business, as well.

Sometimes, it really is the simplest of things, you know?

Thanks for reading.

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