Wednesday, March 14, 2012

If You Please, Sir or Madam, Read This Post

I do it, too.

When someone says thank you to me, more often than not I respond with a “no worries” or a “you bet.” Occasionally, it’s a “you’re welcome,” but those are rare.

Am I scum?

According to Lisa Gache, co-founder of “Beverly Hills Manners” in Los Angeles which – surprise, surprise – offers 1 ½ hour classes on topics such as “Dine With Decorum for Kids” at $135 a pop – I am scum. Pure, unadulterated scum, if I’m reading this NPR report right.

Says Gache:

The responses ‘have a good one,’ ‘I’m good’ or ‘you bet,’ do not carry the same sentiment or convey the same conviction as when we are sincerely expressing our gratitude or thanks. They feel less invested, almost as if they are painful to utter under our breath.

I ask: says who, lady?

If you ask me – and you’re not, since I’m not the manners expert offering dining decorum classes for kids for $135 per 1 ½-hour session – it’s the sincerity of the expressed gratitude or thanks, not the words uttered, that show the investment in our feelings.

If I can invest a “no worries” – a traditional Australian response – with as much sincerity as a “thank you,” the message gets across, correct? And, pardon me for pointing it out, but I’ve heard many a thank you and a you’re welcome uttered as if it were the most painful thing a person has ever been forced to say.

I appreciate this, further down in the article:

For example, [Cindy Post] Senning says, it is important to show respect for other people by greeting them when you first see them — in the hallway, at a meeting, on the street. The form of greeting, though, has morphed over time.

“How do you do?” became “Hello, how are you?” which eventually changed into “Hello, how are things?” Or “How’s it going?”

As a result of the metamorphosis, Senning says, “today it would sound a little stilted and perhaps even disrespectful if a sarcastic tone is used to say ‘How do you do?’”‘

And what about other popular substitutions, such as “no problem” for “you’re welcome”?
Senning says she prefers the latter, “but if the appreciation is expressed in a genuine manner, I do not see its use as a loss of courtesy.”
Language evolves. The feeling we put into language doesn't. As long as the feeling is there, does it really matter what words are used, as long as they're used with meaning and sincerity? No worries, right?

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