Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thx and the Death of Common Courtesy

Situation: You have just spent an acculumated 75 hours on a last-minute project at work that has caused a lot of unforeseen work for you and others. You've been working over lunch to get everything done. You even worked one Saturday. You've been stressed at night and not sleeping well, thinking about this task. Finally one day you finish it. You're so excited and proud to present your new child to the world. You spend several minutes typing up an email to inform the people who asked for your help about the project's completion. You hit send. You take a deep breath.

Response: Feeling good, you sit back and wait for a response. Maybe you'll eat lunch today. Several minutes later, you get an email from the person who asked for your help.


Sent from my iPhone"

You don't hear from them again until the next time they need something.

What has happened to the state of our communication? When we are so busy we can only type three letters instead of five? When our iPhones are allowing people to devolve into machines who can only communicate in monosyllables, rather than engage in meaningful conversation?

I don't expect love letters in response to a job well done, although one time someone did sing "You are the wind beneath my wings" to me over email, which makes them my best friend. Some people say that it's OK to send one line telegraphic messages, reasoning, "We're all so busy, just get to the point and move on so we can all do our jobs!"

But, really? Is a message like, "Thank you so much, I really appreciate your help" going to somehow bog me down in unproductivity because it took me 3 extra seconds to read that sentence? Is this really the biggest problem we have facing American productivity? Have you ever heard of people quitting because they just can't get any work done because people are so darn polite?

Or, more likely, have you ever heard someone say they feel underappreciated at work? Like no one notices the work they do or recognizes how hard they are working? Have you ever heard of someone leaving a position because of it? I have. Which problem is our biggest problem in the workorce - long, flowery emails that are slowing us down or demoralized people who slog through their work, wishing for some common courtesy? My experience is the latter.

On Halloween night, I heard parents repeatedly calling out to their kids, "Don't forget to say thank you!" Some kids would snatch the candy and run, shouting back over their shoulders, "Thanks," but most would look you in the eye and sheepishly say, "Thank you." If a 6-year-old dressed as Buzz Lightyear can comphrehend common courtesy, why are full-grown adults suddenly so inept at it?

So even though we're busy and even though it's hard to type on those tiny phone keyboards, please, use your common sense and practice common courtesy.


Eric said...

Amen. I'm totally with you on this one.

Becky said...

Me too, Amber. You said it better than I ever could.

P.S. I have a hunch I know exactly who you're referring to.

Aaron Armstrong said...

I hate when people leave "Sent from my iPhone" as their default signature. It's okay to change it to "mobile device" or remove it entirely.

Also, people not having common courtesy is a travesty.

Travis said...

thx fr this post!1!1

Travis said...

Sorry about my previous comment.

Anyway, I think the main culprit is related more to simple selfishness and pride than lack of attention to common courtesy.

Perhaps though it's also related to your previous post about "The Compliment?"

By the way I think you're a marvelous writer and have many other fabulous and fascinating traits.

sarahbri said...

Well, first of all, I love my husband a little more for complimenting you so nicely :)

Second, I agree Amber. "Thx" and "Pls" and other such abbreviations for courtesy are one of my (some say too many) pet peeves.

I too think you are fabulous and fascinating, and this was NOT sent from my iPhone.

Steph said...

My brother and I were just talking about this...not only on a politeness level, but the complete degradation of the English language:). I totally agree with you!

Jen said...

Hey Amber - just to play a bit of Devil's Advocate

I'm not sure about this particular case....

But sometimes I will err on putting a shorter answer from my iphone earlier than waiting until later when I'm at my computer to send a longer answer. This is done in the spirit that someone sees that I saw their work and recognized it immediately.

Still, maybe not the most courteous of ways to thank you, but from their point of view, it might have seemed more polite than waiting 8 hours or so? I usually try to say "more later!" and follow it up with a more detailed email, personally.

Dang sarah, do you not breve anymore?

Amber said...

Jen, I think what youo describe would be fine - especially if you're following up. I think it's a matter of scope too - there are different types of communication appropriate for different types of work, you know?

Thanks for the compliment, Trav-o. You know I still am and always shall be your and Sarah's sycophant.