Life Lessons from the Playground – Say Please and Thank you

In continuing on with the things I learned that I summarized in Life Lessons from the Playground, let’s talk gratitude!

Say Please and Thank You
This is where we teach gratitude to our kids, and the awareness that not everything comes to us “just because”. I loved this because when my precious Ethan (terror 80% of the time and melt-your-heart-just-plain-cute the other 20%) understood how being nice and kind and grateful felt, the biggest grin would come over his face, and he started acting much kinder to the others. When he wasn’t biting, but I’ll get to that later.

When we are grateful and cast off the sense of entitlement, I believe it opens up a new world of wonder and pleasure. We learn appreciate what we have and treat them with respect, both possessions and people.

I saw a post on LinkedIn a couple of months ago from an “influencer and expert” in the field of Talent Acquisition who mentioned that you should never send a thank you note after an interview because it makes you look desperate and puts you in a bad position. This clickbait post had a flurry of responses, most from actual recruiters and hiring managers questioning this person’s advice, world view, and sanity. There was a common refrain I saw in the comments, “When did common courtesy become a thing of desperation?”

We do spend a lot of our time teaching our kids how to be polite, and being grateful for what we have with the expectation that we will carry that on throughout our lives. One thing the original author of that post may have been getting at is that many times, candidates are applying for jobs and not hearing back from employers, or hearing back months and months later. There is a sort of a “quid pro quo” tit for tat happening here – if the employers can’t respond to you, why waste your energy? In one sense, I can understand this frustration, but to that I have this question:

Why does someone else’s behavior and conduct change your character and response?

As I stated in my original post, being grateful flies in the face of entitlement, which expects something for every action that you do, or even something for nothing because you “deserve” it. How, you ask? Let’s take a look.

Webster’s definition says that gratitude is “the state of being grateful (jeesh, that’s helpful…): Thankfulness”, or the state of being [appreciative of benefits received; affording pleasure or contentment: Pleasing]”. Entitlement is defined as “a belief that one is deserving of or entitled [having a right to certain benefits] to certain privileges.

I can go into many examples of why one is “better” than the other, but let’s go into application, shall we? You’ve worked for hours on a presentation, putting in some overtime and sacrificing time, often with family and friends, and know that you put your best work in. You hand it over to your manager who takes a quick look at it and says, “Finally. I expected this yesterday. Where’s the report I asked you about last week?” I mean, they’re entitled,  right? That’s your job, so of course. No appreciation necessary of the extra work you put into it, because that’s just what is expected.

Or a Thought Leader has joined your network circle, with great information that many people find of value. In eagerness, you meet with them and offer to introduce them to some key connections. After two or three introductions to amazing people in your community, they contact you and let you know that those connections were sub par, and that they need to meet a certain type of person that is connected to the “right” influencers, and they thought that you would have better inroads. Because that’s what networking is about, right?

Our knee-jerk reaction is to not associate with people like that, in general, but people don’t arrive there all of a sudden. Yes, there are things that we can expect as decent human beings, but that doesn’t preclude us from being grateful. My husband is a horrible cook (his own admission, I’m not telling stories so don’t get your panties in a wad), and I’m very good at it, so I cook. It’s an expectation that we eat, and since I do it better than he does, in order to be economical, I do most of the cooking. He thanks me every time like I’ve just walked across hot lava or something, which I don’t need, but I find I want to do more than just the basics to honor his gratitude.

Entitlement has a habit of pushing people away and netting you the bear minimum, while gratitude can build relationships, opportunities, and gifts beyond your imagining. And that’s why we teach our kids please and thank you from an early age.

When has entitlement or gratitude changed your situation positively or negatively?

Added Bonus: Will Smith on hello’s, goodbye’s, and thank you’s

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