“No Thank You Please” — And The Importance of Directives

Just after the start of the new year, I came across this story in my Facebook timeline about a school in North Carolina where teachers were discouraged from using “please” and “thank you” in communication with students.

Coined as No-NonSense Nurturing, the idea behind the initiative is the teachers shouldn’t say “Please” or “Thank you” for students doing things where participation isn’t truly optional.

Manners is something to be taught at home, not school. Manners are a sign of respect, deference and sincerity. Asking a child to “please sit down” or saying “thank you for not calling out during class” is a misuse of manners. It leads to children not understanding authority and structure.

I was fascinated by the premise and agreed with sentiment … I immediately wondered how and if this could work at work.

  • How often do we say “please” when the other party really has no other option but to comply?
  • How often do we say “thank you” to someone for doing something that is routine or required?

This isn’t real or good manners.

It is passive-aggressive. It is inauthentic — and people see right through it! It creates resentment and division more than it fosters collaboration and teamwork.

More than any other time in our history, we are seeking authentic and honest connection at work.

How can we get there if our communication is laced with insincerity, noncooperation and manipulation???  Because that’s what these unnecessary “pleases” and “thank yous” are … Manners wrapped in rudeness.

After mulling around these thoughts, I started a little experiment … I stopped saying “please” or “thank you” when compliance isn’t optional or when I’m not sincerely grateful.

A little over a month into the experiment, I am really enjoying it!

With every clear, succinct directive, I feel better and better because I know my communications are more clear and candid without the fluff. It’s great!

On the recipient’s end, it has been pretty uneventful. No one has declared me as rude or bossy or lacking manners. No one has pushed back, either … It seems hardly anyone has noticed.

Which now has me wondering … Do manners even matter at work?

Tell me what you think. Please. And thank you.

1 Comment

  1. I really hate having to qualify or pre-qualify a statement, for example, “I really like Sarah, she is a good friend but…” We see it all the time and I get so tired of having to manage feelings – I would like to be more direct but I also think things are perceived differently from different people. I think teachers and women leaders walk a fine line of being tough but not distant – compassionate without seeming too emotional.

    Good stuff.

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