EPISODES 5, MINDING MANNERS - “please, and “thanks” could be your secret weapon


Do manners matter anymore these days at work? With so much collaboration at work, maybe saying “please” or “thanks” doesn’t cut it. More like a hug sometimes, even wearing a mask.

Instead, research confirms that we’re more likely to use phrases like "good job" than “Thank you”.

This phrase occurs only about once in some twenty opportunities. While we all like to be appreciated, there’s a danger that “thanks” becomes just another piece of work jargon—a ritual, rather than an expression of genuine feeling.

Informality now runs rampant in many organisations. So perhaps it’s better to rituals like “please and thanks” and instead concentrate on more essential things?

Uh, uh. Don’t be fooled. Good manners at work continue to matter.

Failure to show them could still jeopardise your chance of success. They’re essential social skills to convey important messages. Without them, you’ll find it harder to form or maintain relationships, collaborate with others, or behave civilly.

Saying “please” and “thanks,” for example, may seem irrelevant, but their essential message is “you matter to me.”

Manners still count when you’re interviewing for a job, talking with your boss, or interacting with customers. They count even when there’s no special occasion.

Examples of bad manners at work include:

  • Direct rudeness

  • Ignoring a colleague talking to you

  • Using your phone while someone talks to you

  • Interrupting when others are speaking

  • Treating a disabled or disadvantaged person in an uncaring or insensitive way

Most senior executives and managers surveyed feel that good manners matter when advancing a person’s career. In two out three say this this kind of behaviour is extremely important.

Work colleagues may not say anything, but they notice and judge how you behave daily. You’d know that if you could read their minds.

There have been studies into the cost of incivility. They suggest that being civil, polite, or respectful to others at work pays. It builds influence and performance.

Claiming that “please” and “thanks” are outdated or irrelevant misses what lies hidden behind such simple courtesies. Each coveys respect for another person.

A Harvard Business Review of nearly 20,000 employees worldwide, for example, found that when it comes to triggering commitment and engagement at work, one thing matters most: showing respect.

Perhaps you think showing respect belongs more to leaders, managers, or supervisors? This is to ignore the reality that manners at work continue to matter for everyone.

As an individual employee, you, too, can encourage and show commitment and engagement. Doing so will help you achieve your own goals.

To sum up, showing civility and respect for others remains an essential aspect of becoming a success at work.

The key to mastering this way of being at work is to improve your self-awareness about how you come across.

Begin by tweaking your behaviour so that you deliver regular small acts of showing respect and gratitude. These build your confidence, influence and effectiveness and produce significant returns.

Commitment to civility can cascade rapidly throughout an entire organisation with benefits to all.

You can help make it happen, and along the way build your chances of success.


  • Make a special effort today to say “please” and “thanks.”

  • Check on how others around you use manners at work

  • No matter how informal your work scene, treat politeness as essential


Two out of three senior executives and managers feel that good manners matter in advancing a person's career.