Indonesia Expat

Please, Thank You and Sorry

"Thank you" in different languages. Courtesy of Lip on Unsplash.

Is there any link between language and behaviour? A lot of research will say “yes” over their inseparable and reciprocal proximity.

Thanks to rampant online lifestyle such as growing use of social media, there seems to be a tendency that the language deficit turns unescapable. To a serious degree, it plays a momentous role in exhibiting anti-social behaviour.

Examining Australian primary school, at very least from my daughter’s experience, I find that behaviour understanding is very practical and bolstered by language politeness. When it comes to instilling respect in their friends and teachers, students are used to three important words: please, thank you and sorry.

They are of paramount significance not for their own semantic meaning. Rather, they matter owing to social values they radiate to interlocutor or society. While semantic understanding simply puts the limit on cognitive attainment, understanding values is efficacious in establishing harmonious relationships with people.

The use of ‘please’ when expressing a request basically exerts considerable stress on respect.

In social interaction, respect is a seed of equality. As a child employs the word “please” by the time he or she makes a request or demand for something from somebody, he or she is trained that there is no superior-inferior attribute within social communication and rapport. Though one who makes a request is a moneyed aristocrat or millionaire, for instance, the use of the word ‘please’ makes his or her company feel equal and far from being offended.

It often happens that a broken or dysfunctional family is not just a matter of meagre incomes, but resulting from an unhealthy mode of communication among family members. Parents reckon that their children are in frequent opposition to their wish on account of their sons or daughters’ impolite choices of words every time they converse. Similarly, kids find their parents unloving due to command-styled communication between parent and children.

Meanwhile, many companies succeed in increasing the productivity rate at work as they have managers capable of inspiring employees’ enthusiasm. Emotionally speaking, the use of the word “please” could set the sense of fear aside in terms of communication and relation between managers and employees. Leaders would be known for their inspiring action instead of fear-generating attitude.

Such is the case with the word ‘thank you’. A child who used to say thank you in a day-to-day actual life of human interaction will be attentive, compliment more and complain less.

My daughter admits that she prefers to see the good in people just because she is accustomed to thanking her friends on many occasions. Islam names it husnuzhan.

Many deem that praise is not a necessity and criticism is a matter of right, particularly in business transaction and service. This is definitely misleading. Complimenting is closely bound to linguistic habituation. Despite being simple, frequent expression of “thank you” suggests one’s recognition of the quality, value, significance, or magnitude of others. That is why children who are accustomed to say “thank you” are far from being judgmental and enjoy their act of admiring strongly from the very beginning.

In politics, the message behind the “thank you” expression could draw politicians into seeking a common platform rather than magnifying the differences and pointing out other people’s mistakes and shortcomings. Why? Like what my daughter said because they will honestly acknowledge that the good they see in other politicians are also in them. They could not see that good if they do not have an inkling of what it is. Indonesia is in dire need of politicians with a smart belief that mutual goodness energises intended transformation for people.

Last but not least, “sorry” is the next word many Australians, in particular, use in daily conversation.

Not simply does it asks for forgiveness, saying ‘sorry’ goes above and beyond the desire for forgiveness, that is to say, to retain social intimacy and develop a sense of responsibility.

Apologise to others by saying sorry for the mistakes made will minimise conflict and misunderstanding. Those offended will feel comfortable as they get an apology. Saying sorry is a subtle way of clarification, making people reconnected which in turn leads to closer social intimacy.

Also, saying sorry get people to be responsible. A person of apology is a person of trust. A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour will eventually vanish once an apology is made.

Saying sorry for likely offence or wrongdoing is a gentleman’s calling card. It is one of the most subtle yet powerful ways to show your consideration for others’ feeling,

Nothing is as important as being simple. Regardless of their simplicity, the three words—please, thank you and sorry—may cause the huge consequence of building genuine engagement and a strong bond of humanity.

The writer is a lecturer in the Faculty of Humanities at Andalas University, Padang.

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