Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

The Value of Asking Nicely

You should add a "thank you" too!I did a small (very small) survey over the last few weeks and asked people to notice  for a week if their supervisors and managers used courtesy phrases when asking them to do something at work (and time and circumstances permitted it.)  Here are the results of 52 responses:

My supervisor or manager more often than not used courtesy phrases when asking me to do something: 21 out of 52.

Sometimes my supervisor or manager used courtesy phrases, sometimes not: 11 of 52.

My supervisor or manager rarely or never used courtesy phrases: 15 of 52.

Other responses: 5 of 52.

Here are  four of the “other responses”:

  • I noticed my boss said please and thank you to some people but never to others.  He almost never asked nicely to men but sometimes went overboard with women. That may be why he’s not liked very well!
  • My supervisor routinely barks out orders or just shoves things at me, but then he’ll come in to my area in a few minutes to see how it’s coming along and will be really nice and appreciative or offer to get things to help me.  The next time he’ll still throw things on my desk or yell an order across the room. He’s always done that and I’m used to it but most of the others get really irritated with him and some have complained. So, I guess my supervisor is sort of yes and sort of no about using courtesy phrases.
  • Toward the end of the week I told my boss about the survey and that I was interested in comparing several of the managers. She got very huffy and started bowing when she’d see me and acting like she was begging me to do things. It wasn’t meant in fun, either.
  • I have a manager who I like in most ways, but she does something that bothers me a lot…she never gives me work directly, it’s always just sitting in the middle of my desk when I come back from lunch or when I arrive in the morning. I have an in-basket but she doesn’t use that. It’s frustrating to me because not only does she not ask nicely, she doesn’t ask at all…it’s just sitting there waiting to be done. I know it’s my job, but I don’t know why she can’t talk to me when it comes to giving me work. 

There are no advantages to leaving off courtesy phrases when asking employees to do a task, and there a many reasons why we should use those phrases. What would your employees or coworkers say about you?

July 4th, 2009 Posted by | Personal and Professional Development, Supervision and Management | 7 comments