Please and thank you (DW#439)

When we are amongst those who are closest to us, we sometimes begin to take each other for granted. Words such as ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and other forms of common courtesy that we use with strangers begin to slip away and sometimes disappear altogether.

We sometimes justify this slipping away of common courtesy by saying to ourselves that saying please and thank you should be reserved for favours that go beyond the expected responsibilities towards each other. That we do not need to thank people for ‘doing their job’ especially if they are not doing ‘their job’ up to our expectations.

Here’s the thing: such an attitude is a recipe for relationships going downhill. Even if our family members continue to ‘do their job’, they will be much more likely to do so with happiness and enthusiasm if their efforts are appreciated. As we may have experienced in our own lives, it is challenging to keep showing up as our best selves in relationships if our efforts are not recognized or appreciated. On the other hand, giving and receiving appreciation for the things that we do everyday is a delightful and graceful way to be in relationship.

Relationship research shows that common courtesy is an integral part of a happy marriage and family. It benefits both the giver and the recipient by making them feel more connected to each other and increases satisfaction in the relationship. It also prevents us from taking each other for granted.

So let’s apply the stranger standard to our relationships: let us be at least as polite to our spouses and children as we are to the stranger on the street. At least as polite at the very minimum. If we want truly inspirational relationships however, we need to go far beyond this minimum and use our very best manners for our loved ones because common courtesy is even more important among intimates than it is with strangers.

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