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The Brits Are Saying: 'More "Please" America!', Is US Christian Politeness Beginning To Fade Away?

by Sim Lee  
11/11/2017 / Christian Living


If you were a child of the 1950s, you will easily remember how the phrase "respect your elders and always be sure to say "please and thank you" was drilled into you by your parents, and more than likely, you probably said the same things to your own children as well. In a similar somewhat corrective parental manner, the Brits are now saying that we Americans are not using the word "please" near enough to meet the typical British expectations of politeness in business letters and on social media.

In the excellent 2015 article "Is it necessary to say please in America" by BBC America's 2015 Toni Hargus, he shows that the Brits feel that the omission of the word "please"in a written request is impolite and a bit bossy, while the Americans business culture feels that "please" in a written request limits their ability to reject the request. The growing American dislike for the word "please" in both business and social media conversations seems to be effecting our sense of charity as well:

In a study conducted by Cedar State University in Ohio, charitable requests were turned down much more often when the telephone caller included the word "please" in their request for charitable donations. The study concluded that the word "please" came across as inappropriate in that it seemed to pressure the people being called to give, and was almost like twisting their arm.

It wasn't that many years ago that "please" was simply framed a polite request and also conveyed a certain amount of sincerity as well. This is what the Brits are saying we lack today in the quality of our business and social media conversations between our two peoples. There are still enough "old school" UK businessmen that can demand common courtesy and get it, unlike the business climate in the US where sub-contracted services and applications seem to roughly set the standards.

Languages will continually change with time and the words and meanings will come and go, but the basic amenities will always be with us in some form or another as long as polite and caring people extend "Please and Thank you" to each other, giving the words life through their conversations, regardless of the direction that social media is taking our sense of etiquette.

Sim Lee is a retired NE Iowan who loves all of God's creatures.

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