Leaders Say Please and Thank You

In my former profession as a high school band teacher, I attended a professional development session on classroom management. It was called “How to Have Pin-Drop Quiet Classrooms” or something like that. I believe in highly disciplined classroom environments, because that’s when you have the most fun.

You can have discipline and positivity at the same time.

Just like going to work can be the most engaging, invigorating, and maybe even fun when you’re getting a lot done.

The speaker had a lot of good points, but one thing turned me off: “Teachers should never say ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ in management situations, otherwise the student will think they are above you.”

Another way to look at it: always say please and thank you in management situations. That way the student will know you don’t think you’re above them.

This was a classic use of role power, rather than doing the work of building relationship power.

This mindset isn’t just in classrooms, of course. We’ve all known bosses who skimped on the “please” and “thank you.” There could be a lot of reasons. At worst, they might have the same philosophy as that shared above—they don’t want to display too much humility because they’re in charge. Or it could be because they’re rushed a lot of the time and don’t like to use too many words.

I read a recent article by Paul White, co-author of The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace and one point stood out to me:

A few individuals will report they don’t recognize their colleagues for work well done because “I never got any praise through my career and I made it fine.” A final aspect of this set of reasons is that many supervisors and managers don’t feel appreciated or valued themselves, so it is challenging for them to communicate positive messages to those who work for them—because their own “emotional well” is dry.

If you lead, please know that the people around you and the people you serve welcome your “please” and “thank you.”

And if you are led, consider this—when is the last time you showed appreciation to your leader?

The whole article is good and a quick read. You can find it here.

Also, the book Paul White co-authored with Gary Chapman is worth a look, and next week I’ll provide a brief book review.

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

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