As children, we are taught plenty of rules by the adults in our lives. But one of the most common manners every child learns is pretty straight forward: Always say “please” and “thank you.” As we age, we learn other useful etiquette skills like how to tip the correct amount and how to behave at a wedding. But it turns out the oldest rule in the book is also the most important. Saying “please” and “thank you” is a sure-fire way to be more polite, even in adulthood.
This tip might seem obvious. Of course you should ask, not demand, someone to do something for you and thank them afterward. But according to a study featured in the Royal Society Journal, we ask and thank people for requests less than we think. The study examined the everyday language used around the world and found that people said “thank you” in approximately one out of 20 instances of someone fulfilling a request or service in an informal setting. That means if a friend were to assist you 20 times in one day, you’d say “thank you” only once.
On the other hand, showing gratitude has been proven to not only improve our own well-being, but also let others know that they are valued and appreciated for all they do. It also encourages them to continue being helpful. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that, after receiving a thankful correspondence for their help in reviewing a cover letter, participants were more willing to help a student with his work because they appreciated being needed and thanked.
Another study has shown that even saying your P’s and T’s online is impactful. Politeness bias, according to the study, affects how people engage in an online platform. If a response to a question is polite, it’s seen as high quality and gains more traction. Being polite “makes people more receptive.”
With the constant hustle and bustle that comes with living a chaotic life, it’s easy to forget to be courteous and polite. Thanking someone can go a long way, and it’s a modern etiquette tip bound to make you more polite.