Oh the power of “hello,” “please” and “thank you.” When they are used you often get better service, lower prices, maybe even a seat on a crowded plane. When they are not employed, you’re put in the “rude” category and are faced with possible negative consequences.
My husband and I discovered just this when we traveled in France a few years ago. After an especially long day of driving we arrived at the hotel at which I was hoping to stay. I hadn’t made a reservation because I wanted to be spontaneous. Bone weary I walked up to the clerk and said, “Hi, do you have a room?” The clerk looked at me with disdain and said “no.” I immediately realized I had made a major faux pas. I had not greeted the man properly and I hadn’t spoken any French. I should have said, “Bonsoir monsieur. We have heard wonderful things about your hotel. Do you have a room available?” By saying the formal “good evening” in French and being complimentary I believe a room would have been available. Thankfully we were able to find a lovely hotel not far from our intended lodging. But we learned an important lesson.
We get so caught up in our little worlds that it’s easy to forget to acknowledge others and say “please” and “thank you.” But, it’s really annoying to service people when they are treated like a transaction rather than a person.
Did you read about the store owner who got so tired of rude customers that he is charging them more for a cup of coffee? He created a sign that lists the prices for a cup of joe. If you just say “One small coffee” it’s $5.00. But if you say “One small coffee, please” the price is $3.00. A “Hello, I’d like one small coffee please” and you’ll only pay $1.75. He wanted to make a point about the importance of acknowledging and being courteous to the staff.
A friend of mine has an internal customer service related job and she said employees will call her on the phone and often launch into their problem without a proper hello or any niceties – “My key card doesn’t work.” Sometimes they will say it angrily as if it’s her fault. All she asks is that they say, “Hi Jane, this is Joe Smith in the marketing department. I’m having problems with my key card and I’m wondering if you might be able to help me with it.” What a difference that would make.
Slow down my friends. Say “hello,” “please” and “thank you,” and give the person who’s helping you eye contact. In fact, I challenge you to look at the barista or sales clerk, or whoever is helping you, and notice what color his or her eyes are during your transaction. Make a point of acknowledging others and using those magic words your parents taught you. They really are magical.