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Thoughts For Thursday: A Simple Thank You Goes A Long Way

February 3, 2011 · 74 comments

in Life, Thoughts For Thursday

I was sitting in the family room the other morning, doing my work, and my husband thanked me out of the blue for saving us money by clipping coupons and paying attention to what is on sale and such before I go grocery shopping.  I have no idea what put the thought of grocery shopping into his head, but whatever the reason, he felt the need to let me know how much he appreciated the effort I go through to make our money last a little bit longer.

Keep in mind, I enjoy my ritual of coming up with my weekly grocery list.   Since I did not work for many years, saving money was my way of making money.   Therefore, I have come to actually enjoy grocery shopping and seeing how much I can save.  (Plus, it helps that I have 3 kids that do all the unloading and putting away of the groceries.)  Therefore, it isn’t like I have been waiting for a big ‘thank you’ for my grocery-saving efforts since it is just kind of a hobby for me.  (Maybe I need more of a life if grocery shopping is my hobby?  Gosh, I sound kind of pathetic.)  Anyway, when my husband thanked me rather unexpectedly, it made my day.

Flash forward 1 hour, and my husband and 3 kids were are all outside  shoveling snow.   My husband thanked the kiddos for working so hard on shoveling the eleven inches of snow, and the kids said ‘well thank you for helping us’.  That made my husband kind of laugh. He viewed shoveling the driveway as part of his job too, and he never thought it was an activity the kids would be thanking him for.

So, this ‘thanking’ got me thinking about how important it really is to be appreciative of people.  I have always tried to say thank you to cashiers, receptionists, anyone that helps me out.   I learned a lesson in appreciation long ago when I worked in the payroll office for our school district.  It was surprising how some adults would actually try to bully me to get their check early, just because I was a student.   I swore I would always treat people better than how these adults were treating me.

In addition,  I hate when people don’t say ‘thank you’ to me  for everyday things.  Actually, I think I may have an irrational anger towards people that can’t bring themselves to say ‘thank you’ when you do something nice for them.  In particular, I cannot stand when people just stare at me as they walk through the door I have opened for them.  Or when people don’t give me a little wave when I let them merge in front of me in traffic.   I literally want to smack those people that feel it is my job to make their life easier.  (Sorry, I know I have complained about this type of behavior before, but some things need to be repeated, like my pet peeves.)

So, don’t be one of those people that I want to smack.  Get out there and appreciate people.  Say thank you when someone holds the door- you can even say it twice if they hold two sets of doors open for you.  There is never harm in being appreciative!

Finally, I have a question for those of you that have worked in the service industry in the past (or current):   How much did/does the rudeness of patrons bother you?  I often find myself feeling bad for waitresses and such when customers are flat out rude and dismissive.  Did/do you find such rudeness bothersome, or did you just blow it off?  I would love to hear some stories!!!

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Financial Samurai February 3, 2011 at 5:14 am

Thank you for your post! Yes, common courtesy and small gestures go a long way. Tis what I’ve learned as a manager. Sometimes, all people want is recognition more than anything else.

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Kris February 3, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Oh, you are welcome Sam!

It is amazing how much appreciation does mean to people. It can totally turn their day around.

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First Gen American February 3, 2011 at 6:20 am

Well written and so true.

I worked in the service industry for 7 years through high school and college and of all the incidents, I remember one event distinctly and it was my banquet waitress job. I was waiting on some sales reps from Astra pharmaceuticals. They were having some kind of training or sales meeting nad I distinctly remember one young girl treating me like “the help” and getting a distinct sense that she was so much better than me. I think she assumed that I was some high school dropout or something.It was also during a recession, so only the top people had good jobs and she clearly just graduated college and was a new hire. It was upsetting but only briefly. I just said to myself, someday I’m going to make just as much money as you and I will never treat people like the help. I also never assume that someone is a waitress or cashier because they are stupid or unmotivated. There are 100 other reasons that people do those jobs (for family, as a stepping stone, as a second job).

I’m at a similar meeting myself this week and when banquet people do their jobs well, they are kind of invisible, so sometimes you even forget they are there busting their butts. I do go out of my way to say thank you to them at functions, etc. It usually makes them smile.

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Kris February 3, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Isn’t it funny how one incident can make such an impact? I love those moments in life!

By the way, I bet you make more than those snooty reps!

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First Gen American February 4, 2011 at 5:24 am

Kris, Yup, I’m pretty sure I do by about $25K. I have a friend who left our company to sell botox and she said she had to take that big a pay cut in base salary to go there. Uuually though their bonus’s are uncapped, so if you kick butt you can do really well.

By the way, I was just at a speech by Marshall Goldsmith..he’s a really famous and charismatic lifecoach and a large chunk of his speech was about just saying thank you when receiving advice/good or bad. It made me think of your article.

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Kris February 4, 2011 at 4:50 pm

First Gen – I will take that as a compliment, thank you!

I am so glad you have beaten out those snooty people!

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101 Centavos February 3, 2011 at 6:47 am

Words well spoken. Politeness and manners will carry a long way. People that I let by in traffic and keep on talking on their cellphones I want to smack too. If the boys are in the truck with me, I make it a point to say out loud “you’re not welcome”.
Interesting choice of topic for today, by the way. I was working on a draft yesterday about politeness and basic good manners as career tip for young people.

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Kris February 3, 2011 at 5:55 pm

101- Maybe we could both smack the cell phones out of their hands? That would make my day.

I am sure your post will be more useful than mine. This post is more of a a ‘just be a better person already!’. Yours will hopefully help people in their jobs (or get a job).

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Nicole February 3, 2011 at 7:51 am

This is really a cultural thing. We were just discussing it over dinner last night. Apparently people from New Jersey get terribly uncomfortable with helpfulness and “excessive” politeness. They think polite people are about to steal their wallets.

My DH and I are from the midwest. We thank each other all the time. It helps with doing chores and stuff. It’s nice to be appreciated.

Money reasons– you should thank your wife for being an awesome SAHP.

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Kris February 3, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Well I guess I am lucky I live in the midwest then because the people in New Jersey would hate me. Who would think that manners would ever be a bad thing?

Also, I agree with you about MR..

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Nicole February 3, 2011 at 6:32 pm

I know that in general one should not say anything at all if one cannot say anything nice (another Midwestern cultural thing), but just between you and me, I do not get along well with many things about New Jersey. I like the South MUCH better.

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Molly On Money February 3, 2011 at 8:54 am

I think you can find cultural differences. Here in NM to look people directly in the face can be viewed as rude. I grew up here and didn’t notice until I moved to a smaller community.
My husband recently, out of the blue, thanked me for shaving my legs! I laughed and said, ‘But honey, I always shave my legs.’. He said, ‘I know, and thank you!’

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Kris February 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Cute comment from your husband!

I don’t know what I would think if strangers were looking directly at my face. I am not a huge fan of eye contact in the first place, so I wonder if that would earn a slap from me too? Hmm…

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beth February 3, 2011 at 9:46 am

Your husband is so sweet! I have the same pet precedes about discourteous people, especially when I hold the door for them….

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Kris February 3, 2011 at 4:09 pm

We need to create a door holding movement where people do actually get smacked if they do not utter a thank you.

Join me at Somerset? There are plenty of ungrateful people there…

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beth February 5, 2011 at 4:19 pm

I was there today but didn’t hold the door for anyone. I did have people who couldn’t wait for everyone to get out of the elevator though.

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Kris February 5, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Oh, I love when people come barging on the elevator when I am trying to exit. Especially if they have 3 bags in each hand!

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DoNotWait February 3, 2011 at 9:57 am

My, my, you bring up a subject I could talk about for hours! So many stories in my head right now, don’t even know which one to write! I worked in customer service for 8 years as my first “student” job. Actually, it was my parent’s business but we all worked very very hard. Anyways, even during the days I did not feel so well, no matter the reason, I always made sure to smile and give the best service I possibly could. Still, in those 8 years, I can’t number the times where I got undeserved insults or even just impolite manners. There were thankful people of course and my work would have been hell without those customers who became part of my life after a while. Since then, I can’t stand receiving bad customer service. I am not a difficult customer, but like to be treated as a worthy client. So instead of complaining to their boss, I make sure to make them smile. It ALWAYS works.

I too hate when someone don’t say thank you when I opened the door for them. Have you ever noticed that it is often older people than you who kind of think that it is due to them? My parents taught me to be respectful towards older people than me, but that does not mean they don’t have to say thank you in return. And, if a 7 year-old kid opens the door for me, I will grant him kindly (it did happen only 1-2 weeks ago). If someone does not do the same for me, I will still answer as if they did: “My pleasure”, I reply. It worked many times as making them realize they were impolite.

Anyways, I could go on and on cause I absolutely think that good manners are often forgotten. This is really unfortunate as it really can change our days.

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Kris February 3, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I totally think there are so fewer people out there with good manners. Kids don’t respect adults as much either. I remember when I was a kid, anyone over the age of 17 had my immediate respect. Now, kids stare at you if you drive down the street and interrupt their roller hockey game.

You were a good soul to still be so pleasant when being treated so poorly.

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DoNotWait February 4, 2011 at 10:05 am

Well, it doesn’t mean I never replied to the guy…! 😉 I remember one incident in particular where a man wanted a reimbursement after more than 30 days (it was like 45 days for a plastic soap distributor that cost less than $10 and really showed it was manually broken). So I said I am sorry but I can’t reimburse this item and explained why. The man replied: If you don’t, I will go reimburse myself in your store. I said: Mister, if you do that I will have to consider you as a thief and will have to call the police. “I dare you B%$/*” he replied. Well, I did call the police… The man was staring at me with angry eyes and was pretty impressive, more than 6 feet tall and at least 280 pounds. Gosh, I was so happy when the police did arrive!!

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Joe Plemon February 3, 2011 at 10:42 am

Thank you, Kris, for this post.
I learned a lesson years ago when someone opened a door for me and, for whatever reason, I walked right through without giving acknowledgment. The man, rightfully ticked off, said (shouted), “Well! Thank you too!” I quickly apologized and thanked him. But I have never since NOT thanked anyone who opens a door for me.

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Kris February 3, 2011 at 4:06 pm

You are welcome Joe! 🙂

I hate to say it, but I have given many a snarky comment when someone just breezed through the door I was holding open for them. Isn’t it funny how something so small can be so frustrating?

I am sure you were just preoccupied when you didn’t acknowledge the door-holder, so I feel bad someone yelled at you!

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Money Reasons February 3, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Thank you for being a great blogger!

It’s scary how similar you and I actaully are!!! I easily could have wrote this article (except for working in payroll, that’s more like my wife).

Anyway, I feel the same way about rude people ingoring when I do something nice for them and the ignore me (especially opening the door).

I hate when someone takes out it out on the server because of the taste of their food (or any waitress or waiter). I actually become extra nice to them and give them a bigger tip than normal, especially when the server is doing a great job.

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Kris February 3, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Thank you too MR!

There are so many rude people in the world, I bet there are many, many, many people that could write the letter.

I don’t get how people blame the waitress for poor-tasting food. The waitress is just the messenger, but some people can’t just think for more than 2 seconds before they open their mouth.

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Squirrelers February 3, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I agree with what you’re saying here. It’s not hard to say “Thank You”, and to show appreciation. This can be done with anybody, whether family or a service worker with whom you’re interacting.

One way to think about it is when you’re at a restaurant and a server is working hard to make modest wages, don’t treat them as if they’re inferior beings. That could be someone’s daughter or son. Or Mom or Dad. Think about it. It’s just the right thing to do to show appreciation to people. Maybe it’s my Midwest upbringing here, but there’s nothing wrong with saying thank you to retail workers or other people you deal with, just to be nice.

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Kris February 3, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I totally agree Squirrel. I really don’t know why it is so hard for some people to show a kindness. It was amazing to hear some of the stories the contractors told me when they were working on my house about how poorly they were treated by some of their employers. How these people live with themselves, I will never know.

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JT McGee February 3, 2011 at 2:11 pm

I’ve made it my little “thing” to always say please, thank you, and to give a little smile when doing so. It really is amazing how much better these three things help break down any barriers, and frankly, open up a lot of doors.

In an argument/disagreement/otherwise poor situation the ideas of “kill them with kindness” are most effective, as well.

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Kris February 3, 2011 at 4:01 pm

JT, you are so right. You are might more likely to get what you want if you are polite and treat people like human beings. Being rude just makes people defensive, and most likely they will not want to help.

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Finanzas Personales February 3, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Being thankful is soooo easy and for some reason many people just don’t get it… it even seems some put their effort in finding new ways of being rude and annoying. But that kind of tells you important things about the person’s essence.

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Kris February 3, 2011 at 3:59 pm

We think being thankful is easy because it is a part of who we are. But I really think some people just feel plain entitled, so being thankful is not second nature. (Or first nature…)

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krantcents February 3, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Is teaching considered part of the service industry? Maybe for these purposes! I sometimes think I put up with a lot of stuff without the respect or a thank you. Now that I said it I feel better. Seriously, I do not expect any gratitude for what I do. Sometime later, maybe.

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Kris February 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Oh I totally think teaching is part of the service industry, and you should definitely be appreciated.

So, I say thank you!!

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Deidre @ TransFormX February 3, 2011 at 11:32 pm

krantcents…you are a teacher? wow! Kudos to you my friend, not sure if I would have the patience for that nowadays.

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Nicole February 3, 2011 at 9:32 pm

btw, thank you for having a great blog!

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Kris February 3, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Thank you too Nicole and Maggie!

(and you are welcome 🙂 )

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Deidre @ TransFormX February 3, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Oh my! You really opened the door on this one Kris! 🙂 I shall restrain myself however!
I worked in the food service industry for many many years. In fact, I recently posted my current ‘rules’ for tipping over on Aloysa’s Kitchen Sink which came out of my experiences.

A year ago I pondered the idea of going back to the service industry, on a part time basis, and wondered if I would have the patience for it…maybe and maybe not. Most likely it would depend on what job and restaurant it involved.

One of my biggest pet peeves was rude people. The kind of people who assumed that just because you worked in the food service industry and had blonde hair you were automatically one of the following: 1. trash 2. illiterate 3. a teen mother with 50 children 4. a bimbo. And not necessarily in that order…

Of course, me being the way I am, I did not take kindly to this sort of treatment and often started conversations that generated blank ‘deer in the headlights’ stares from the customers. Conversation starters like: Did you know the Dow Jones just fell XX points – how’s that 401K or money market doing today? Or better yet for the ranchers: Did you know that the price of beef on the commmodities market just plunged? Were your stop-gap measures in order before the AM bell rang?

Pretty soon, I had many repeat customers (who came in every day for breakfast) start requesting my section so that we could discuss the daily financial news. It was an interesting experience which taught me to never judge a book by it’s cover 🙂 and to never underestimate the value of re-training 😉

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Suba @ Wealth Informatics February 3, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Awesome post Kris. Thank You, please and sorry… these three words go a long way. I don’t know because we are asians we get that treatment (people seem to think asians are rude). We usually get the rude treatment from the waiter/waitress. Only after my husband makes an effort to still make small talk with them inspite of them being rude, they relax. For this reason, a lot of time, when we go out for something special like our anniversary or something, we go to our regular place. We never try new places when it is a special day. Not all of them, a lot of them. Oh well… at least I now know NEVER to treat anyone with less respect and be patient if I was given the rude treatment. Excellent post as always. Thank You!

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Kris February 4, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Suba- I am so sorry you are treated so poorly! I had no idea that Asians were considered rude by some. Most Asians I have encountered have been quite polite and unassuming. Prejudice is such a bummer!

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Moneycone February 3, 2011 at 11:08 pm

A little appreciate will go a long way. I learnt this very early in my job.

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Roshawn @ Watson Inc February 4, 2011 at 12:47 am

Thank you is big. It goes a very long way, and it does not take too much. I gladly say thank you for things that are other people’s jobs. Like you, I try to imagine how much more difficult my life would be if they weren’t doing it. I don’t think I have the anger when people don’t say thank you, but it typically doesn’t go unnoticed.

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Kris February 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Shawn, I get the impression you probably do not let things bother you like I do! You will live much longer…

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Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer February 5, 2011 at 7:39 pm

I think common courtesy is good at all times: with family, dining out or in the business setting. I actually think things are getting better, but maybe that’s only in my own optimistic world.

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Sandy H @ Journey To Our Home February 12, 2011 at 8:52 pm

What a great reminder for everyone! A thank you (for just doing what needs to be done in some cases) can go a long way, and make someones day a little better!
Thank you for the reminder!!

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Kevin@InvestItWisely February 13, 2011 at 10:25 am

I don’t give a little wave because I drive a stick shift and both of my hands are in use. 😛

Seriously though I agree, common courtesy goes a long way. I don’t expect it in a busy scenario like exiting a subway, but if you hold the door open for someone behind you at a store, at work, or some other such setting, make eye contact, and the person *doesn’t* say anything, then that’s kind of rude.

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