Are good manners extinct on the electronic frontier?
Do you always say “please” when you make a request of someone?
Do you always say “thank you” when someone does you a favor?
Do you always get the same courtesy by default in return?
I always say “please” and “thank you” but many of the people I deal with during the day — both professionally and socially — rarely say please and hardly ever say “thank you” and I’m curious when, why, and how that simple measure of courtesy died.
I recently read somewhere that in the text world:
The person with the “least” power must always make the last reply in a conversation be it in email or live text chat.
That quote was centered on the frame of the professor/student
relationship where a professor told her class how to behave when it
comes to courtesy in the virtual prairie. The professor went on to tell
her class that if you ask her a favor in email it is the student’s
responsibility to thank her as the last message in the communication
chain because the student has “less power” than the professor.
agree the person with the least power in a dyad — the employee in the
employee/boss relationship; the child in the child/parent relationship;
the student in the student/professor relationship — is required to end
the electronic conversation or not?
How do we deal with relationships where the perception of power is
variable and transient? How is the Least-Powerful-Replies-Last rule
negotiated between peers or friends when there isn’t a clear power
hierarchy to respect? Who has the last word? Who is required to provide
the last word?
I’m sure you’ve been stuck in mobius strip email conversations with
back-to-back-to-back-and-back thanking and promising to be in touch
again soon. When does an email conversation end? Who decides?
who doesn’t reply back? Is that a power play to not reply back?
I find email generally unreliable and suspicious with the hard rise of
Spam and Spoofing so I’m happy to end any and all email conversations
no matter what role I play in the power dyad because email is
notoriously unreliable and being absolutely clear is always my
preference to being perceived as “powerful.” 93% of communication is
reading physical cues so when we go “text only” we are limiting the
available information at hand for fully understanding the other person.
When we go text-only we are forced to comprehend each other at 7% of
information normally available in person. A phone conversation provides
only 15% of all the communication cues found in an in-person
conversation. I have been burned by students and friends who request
the world of you — and after you provide for their needs and grant
their wishes — you never hear from them again. I miss the “thank you”
even more when there isn’t an accompanying “please” embedded in the
initial request. Am I being old fashioned and quaint in my expectation
of basic manners in the electronic information age where everything is
ether and nothing has the courtesy of hardcopy meaning any longer?
If so, please tell me.
I promise to thank you.