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Guest Commentary: Excuse Me And Thank You!

I come from a different era. I no longer expect to be called “sir” by the younger generation. When I hold a door for someone, many times they seem surprised. On business conference calls at the completion of the call, people hang up without offering a thank you or a goodbye. I am indeed a dinosaur!

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John Passante is a broad-based senior executive with over 30 years of extensive organizational development and senior human resource experience with progressive corporations involved in multiple locations, both domestic and international.

As a seasoned business traveler for more than 40 years, both domestically and internationally, it appears to me that as a society people are becoming less concerned with extending the common courtesies, like holding a door for a woman or man who is struggling to carry packages or that is carrying two young children in their arms. As a world-class people watcher, it both dismays and saddens me to observe an elderly person attempting to put their bag in the overhead compartment on a plane and many times no one comes forward to assist them. Not even the flight attendants!
 
Granted, I come from a different era. I no longer expect to be called "sir" by the younger generation. When I hold a door for someone, many times they seem surprised. On business conference calls at the completion of the call, people hang up without offering a thank you or a goodbye. I am indeed a dinosaur!
 
My theory is the apparent lack of common courtesy makes the world a tougher place, which causes people to be more short tempered and angry. At a recent band concert in Bristol when the national anthem was played, many in the crowd did not remove their baseball hats. As an Air Force veteran, this upset me. Some things need to change, in my opinion. Most of us were raised with the basic tenets of respect for your fellow man, help others who are in need, treat others as you would like to be treated and for the love of the country! The question behind the question is — Can we collectively gain back our society and become more civil to one another?
 
I have faith in mankind and our ability! Like any change in life, fostering and nurturing a friendlier America needs to start today!
 
Pay attention to the conversations around you – your customers, co-workers, friends and family members. Listen carefully. Do you notice something missing? Like the magic words — “thank you” and “please?” These are simple words we learned as children, which were reinforced by our parents and loved ones.
 
I am concerned that our courteous language appears to be disappearing. We are indeed a casual society today. I observe very casual dress in church, casual behavior in nice restaurants and yes, casual conversations. Phrases such as, “You are welcome” appear to be fading away. When I say “Thank you” to someone, instead of responding with “You are welcome,” I am more liable to hear, “No problem,” “You bet,” or my least favorite, “Enjoy.”
 
Are good manners fading away or just morphing?
 
According to Psychiatrist Dr. Gregory E. Smith, “Simple things that we took for granted as children no longer seem to count.”
 
Perhaps it has to do with our "hurry up" society. In 2011, some 76 percent of people surveyed by Rasmussen Report said Americans are becoming ruder and less civil.
 
I believe in the power of a sincere “thank you.” Change is all around us. What will not change in my opinion is the importance of acknowledging appreciation expressed.
 
The wheels of business revolve with warp speed. As a result, old-time courtesies are often forgotten. When was the last time you wrote or received a handwritten note of thanks?
 
Saying “thank you” to employees and customers builds loyalty, increases productivity and leads to greater customer satisfaction. Many customers will not complain about poor service or lack of attention.  They simply vote with their wallets and go to your competitor!
 
Think about this … A complaining customer still wants to do business with you, so thank them for giving your company the chance to improve and then work hard to make the customer happy. Send them a thank you card for providing you with feedback.
 
The challenge I put in front of all of us is to start today to look for sincere ways to say “thank you” … and mean it!

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John A. Passante, president & CEO, The Organizational
Development Group, Inc., is author of “The Human Side, The Human Touch
in a High Tech World.”

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