‘Please’, ‘Thank you’ charm

All too often, we get caught up in the world with our busy lives. It is easy to forget the simple but nice gestures in life, like saying please and thank you.

November has been declared a month of Thanksgiving in the West, whereby they express gratitude towards families and friends and the society at large for all the good things achieved in the year. However, this special remembrance goes on and on until the year ends. It is a fact that thanksgiving is a result of a considered request. It is showing appreciation for an answered plea. At one point, one had to ask for something that is now given to him. One had to say ‘Please, may I have this….’ and now it is granted. The next gesture is to say ‘thank you.’

The thrill behind saying Please and Thank you is that it symbolises courtesy. It is that simple and basic moral principle that leaves people feeling pleased. If you would like someone to open a door for you, saying ‘Open the door!’ sounds like a rough demand, while ‘Please, open the door for me’ makes the same thing into a polite request.

Kefilwe Mokgwathi believes that saying please and thank you show respect and love for the other person. “When my son was young, I would pretend I could not hear any request not prefaced by please and thank you,” says the mother of a nine-year-old.  She states that the second most important words to be taught to babies after ‘Mommy and Daddy’ are ‘Please and Thank you.’  Mokgwathi, a teacher, says that children who use those words grow up happy because they know that not everything in life comes for free and that after getting what they wanted, giving thanks is courteous.  On explaining the roots of Please and Thank you, American anthropologist and author David Graeber informs that the habit of saying them is not universal. He states that like many of our everyday courtesies, it is a kind of democratisation of what was once a habit of feudal deference: the insistence on treating absolutely everyone the way that one used only to have to treat a Lord or similar hierarchical superior.

The habit of always saying that, according to Graeber, began to take hold among he middle class during the commercial revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries. He educates that Please comes from ‘If you please,’ as in ‘if it pleases you to do this,’ and that Thank you derives from, ‘’Think’ as in ‘I will remember what you did for me’.

University of Botswana (UB) sociology graduate Omphile Motlogi describes it as the language of homes, shops, bureaus and offices. “It is also merely one token of a much larger philosophy that shows that as much as we need each other, we also owe each other kindness,” he says. It is also worth noting that body language matters when saying please and thank you. Some please bow down when they say please, other look straight into your eyes when they make a request. This shows the condition of the heart that is desperately in need of something. On the other hand, when you say thank you, you can extend it with a hug, a smile, flowers, a card, or a bigger gift.  Some people can throw a party just to say thank you.

For example, you can say it better that way to your mother on her birthday. “It is a supreme language of angels,” says Lesedi Mooka.
Nevertheless, the same goes for not accepting something. Saying ‘No, thank you’ shows you mean well.

Last modified on Tuesday, 17 December 2013 10:22

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