Say, whatever happened to "please" and "thank you"?
Listen to the conversations around you — colleagues at the office, customers in the coffeehouse line, those who serve you, those you serve, the people you meet each day. "Give me a tall latte." "Hand me that hammer." "Have a good one."
Notice anything missing? The traditional magic words "please" and "thank you"
that many people learn as children appear to be disappearing.
Lisa Gache, co-founder of Beverly Hills Manners in Los Angeles, has noticed the gradual vanishing of courteous language. She blames the casualty on the casual. "The slow erosion of the 'magic words' in our everyday vernacular," says Gache, who coaches people to be more civil, "has to do with the predilection toward all things casual in our society today. Casual conversation, casual dress and casual behavior have hijacked practically all areas of life, and I do not think it is doing anyone a service."
Other polite phrases also seem to be falling by the wayside. "You're welcome," for instance. Say "thank you" to someone these days, and instead of hearing "you're welcome," you're more liable to hear: "Sure."
"No problem." "You bet." "Enjoy." Or a long list of replies that replace the traditional "you're welcome."
Instead of saying "thank you," people say "got it." Or "have a good one." Or, more often, nothing at all. And in lieu of saying "no, thank you," reactions
such as "I'm good" are increasingly common.
"The responses 'have a good one,' 'I'm good' or 'you bet,' do not carry the same sentiment or convey the same conviction as when we are sincerely expressing our gratitude or thanks," Gache says. "They feel less invested, almost as if they are painful to utter under our breath."
Please excuse us for asking the questions: Are we just finding new ways to say old, polite phrases? Are good manners merely morphing? Or are they fading away
That's from a lengthy NPR treatment of the current state of incivility. The general premise of the piece is that it's getting ruder all the time out there, which I think is almost beyond argument. It's so generally uncivil that any display of what we once called "manners" is refreshing and very appreciated, no matter what form the words take. If the expression seems sincere, I don't think there's a big difference between "Thank you" and "No problem." When a co-worker and I first see each other during the work day, "How's it going?" works just as well as "Hello, how do you do?" An answer is never expected anyway -- the greeting is just to acknowledge being comfortable sharing the same space. Language is always evolving, so we should be careful not to confuse form with function. "Being more informal" is not the same thing as "lacking in respect."