Magic words that we should use every day in the workplace

What happened to the MAGIC words???

4c562f5153e12f7e18e18e38c8cc4971 - What happened to the MAGIC words???

When I was growing up we were always told to use our manners and it was enforced as well. If you wanted a piece of cake you said, “Please” and “Thank you” when you were given one. I never think twice about maintaining what I would call ‚ ≤being respectful’. Even today, years later (we won’t go into how many) I still use my manners. Example: I needed to create a purchase order for staff uniforms at one of my client’s, who happened to be in another state. I phoned up the Purchasing Officer and asked if they would ‚ ≤please’ fill in the right paperwork for me if I emailed across what I needed. Further to that, I made a point of going in to that person next time I was in the office to say, “Thank you.” It didn’t take more than a minute, but I can be sure it made that person’s day. I have seen it so many times where people expect you to just get something done but just can’t seem to say, “Thanks”.

It really surprises me that this, what I class as a common sign of respect, seems to be elusive in the workplace. I have seen business owners who have this air about them that employees have some kind of debt owed the employer because they have given them a job. It is almost as if they say, “I pay you to do the work so I don’t have to thank you as well!‚ π On the flip side of this, business owners get offended and angry with employees who don’t use their manners when being given something such as a pay increase or holiday approval. What happened to Do unto others as you would have others do unto you‚ π [Matthew 7:12]?


I had a discussion over rewarding and recognising employees with a fellow business owner just recently. (To clarify, we were not talking about monetary or promotion rewards but simply praising an employee for a job well done.) My fellow business owner had the opinion, “Why does everyone need to be praised for doing what I am paying them to do? In the old days, if someone did not do as they were told they’d get the sack. Today I can’t sack them, but they expect me to praise them for doing what is expected of them and what they are being paid to do!” (A point to note – we are totally different in our outlook and also generation).


I do see the point but still maintain my position that it only takes a minute to say, “Great job!”, “It’s looking good!” or even “Thanks for doing that.” So simple, in my view, and it means so much to employees to hear it as well. I do believe that you will get more productivity from an employee for simple acknowledgements of a job well done. I mean, think about it. As kids, we were rewarded for good behaviour so we tried harder as we wanted to please – this is learned behaviour. Think about Pavlov and his studies into classical conditioning in which a behaviour is strengthened or weakened, depending on its consequences (i.e. reward or punishment). If you give positive reinforcement by way of a Thank you, great job!‚ π or even Gee, that’s awesome. Keep it up!‚ π you would receive more back in increased productivity.


It doesn’t just stop with business owners though. Managers and supervisors also seem to think that they no longer have to praise or thank staff. One recently suggested, “If someone does more than is expected of them, then I agree great praise should be put on them but that is very rare these days. Extra? I’m struggling just to get them to do their jobs!‚ π For this, I refer back to the previous paragraph and Pavlov. Perhaps managers and supervisors should give praise a go and see what impact it has. Just maybe, by showing some positive reinforcement they will actually see the increased productivity as well as people going above and beyond their work roles.


The above is only my viewpoint on the loss of ‚ ≤the Magic words’. Perhaps you disagree. If this is the case let me set you a challenge. For the month of June 2014, praise your teams for a job well done. Say, “Thank you” and “Please”. Use the manners that were installed in you as children. Treat others the way that you expect to be treated. After the end of June look back at productivity and also the work atmosphere and see if it’s changed. Do bear in mind though it’s only a month, so do not expect massive change. This type of change is incremental not transformational. I would love to hear the outcomes so email me on


Good luck and have fun ‚ ¨ as my motto says I don’t go to work to be miserable so why should others?‚ π

Related Tag: Performance Improvement Plans