Thank you…please

By Stacy Thompson

I have too many pet peeves to count – some are fairly typical, such as slow drivers in the left lane, constant interrupters and people who talk during movies.  Others are more particular and slightly more unusual, such as the use of the word “irregardless” (I know it has been deemed a word, but it still bugs me), shows about law firms (glamorizing a fairly unglamorous job while making it seem as if all problems can be solved within an hour) and people who leave those little plastic covers on the backs of watches, electronics or glass (I’m looking at you, Mom & Dad).  But one thing that genuinely makes me happy each and every time is when I receive a “thank you” note in the mail.  Yep, good old fashioned, snail mail does the trick, and as much as I fought the order to write said notes as a child, I have found that sending them brings as much pleasure.

In this graduation season, wedding season and given that birthdays tend to fall in every season, I encourage you to not only consider putting pen to paper, but to make your day better by doing so – it’s easy, it’s fast and it costs next to nothing to accomplish this minor task that will brighten a day beyond measure.  Here are a few pointers to making the most of your notes:thank-you-515514_1920

  • When traveling or around town, look for notecards that mean something to you – whether sketches of your alma mater, watercolors that calm your soul or logos promoting your business, easy access to blank notecards will make the drafting much easier and less of a hassle.
  • Pre-purchase stamps so the actual mailing is even easier – who wants to stand in line at the post office or remember to stop by the kiosk to purchase the stamps??
  • Write a draft—re-read and then write it again – crossing out, liquid paper and a delete key are not an option – make sure you know what you want to say and how you want to say it before you put pen to paper.
  • Open with a salutation that fits your relationship to the thank-you note recipient – is this a friend, family member, future employer?? Cater your opening to reflect how you would greet them in person.
  • Make your message personal – if you’re writing to thank someone for a gift, specifically mention the gift itself and how you plan to use it or why it is important to you; if you’re writing to thank someone for a meeting/interview, make mention of anything you talked about or any specific details that were important to you.
  • Be informal, if appropriate, and add your personality and language to the note – best to write it as if you are thanking the person in person—your note will stand out, be memorable and will put a smile on the recipient’s face much as it will yours.

So take a page from Jimmy Fallon and write a thank you note whenever you receive a gift, a kind action or memorable meeting – you’ll make your momma proud!!

Dealing with Rude People

By Chaunte McClure

I grew up in a community where it was common to sit on the porch and wave as people passed or walked by. We were taught to say yes ma’am, yes sir, no ma’am no sir and thank you. You know, just basic Southern hospitality. Then there are some courtesies that have become a habit and what I thought was normal.

Take holding the door for someone, for instance. When you see someone about to enter a doorway that you’re exiting and they’re about, eh, two feet away, do you let the door close in their face or take two seconds to hold it until they’re able to grab hold and enter?

I had two experiences in the past couple months where doors were practically closed in my face. I was entering a favorite brunch spot on a recent Saturday and a young man was exiting the establishment, looked me dead in the eyes and let the door go as I was raising my arm to reach for it. Maybe he had a lot on his mind and was just distracted by his thoughts. Maybe he’s not from around here where good manners cost nothing. That experience made for a brief conversation at the table while I waited for my two little deuces with sausage.

I fell victim again as I was about to enter a department store at a local shopping center. Again, I was so close to the customer that I could have touched her. Granted, she had bags in her hand and her husband exited right after her. He immediately said ‘I’m sorry’, perhaps noticing the look on my face. It disgusted me as much as it does when cashiers place my change on the counter instead of in my hands. But because I generally use a debit card, I don’t have to experience this much at all.

What I have experienced over the past 20 years is good mornings are hard to come by some days. There were days when I’d walk in the workplace, say good morning and would hear silence. I mean, I’m not a morning person and I don’t have much to say first thing in the mornings, but you’ll at least get a good morning out of me. Common courtesy, right? Not exactly, but again, not everyone is Southern and not everyone is hospitable. But is it right? Better question: How do you respond to rude people?

When they go low, we go high.

Here are five ways to deal with rude people:

  1. Ignore them. At least 95% of the time this works for me because I can easily recognize and ignore ignorance.
  2. Give them a pass. Everyone wasn’t raised like me and sometimes people are just having a bad day. That’s not an excuse but it is a reality. And like the man and woman mentioned above, you’ll likely never see them again anyway, so why bother?
  3. Be kind to them. Being kind can potentially shift their mindset and cause them to in turn be kind and sometimes later apologize for the rudeness. Michelle Obama said it best – when they go low, we go high. Go high.
  4. Speak up. When necessary, speak up for yourself. You are not a doormat. It took me forever to learn that people will treat you the way you allow them to treat you. Every battle doesn’t need to be fought, but when you discern that it needs to be, do so. Your fight shouldn’t include a loud argument which could escalate. If the rude person is a colleague or family member that you have to spend considerable time around take time out to talk to him or her after you’ve calmed down, even if it’s days later.
  5. Anyone can get pushed to the edge, and even when I do, I take a moment to say a prayer, so I can remain calm.

When Did “Customer Service” Become an Oxymoron?

By: Jeanne Reynolds

I’m trapped in my own home.

I’m a prisoner of our internet provider. “Provider” is a bit of a misnomer, however, because no service is being provided, and hasn’t for a month or so. For the second time in as many weeks, I’ve waited four hours for a technician who never arrived. (Now, almost three hours past the promised appointment window, he’s allegedly on his way. I’ll let you know how that works out.)

Numerous calls, emails and online chats with the customer service department have only increased our frustration. I’m talking service reps for whom English is obviously a skill still in the works and who are apparently reading from a script (“How to Deal with Irate Customers 101,” perhaps), conflicting information and even “alternate facts” (Them: “Our records show the work was completed and technician signed the paperwork.” Us: “That’s funny because I sat here for four hours and no one came.”). I’d like to rip the whole thing out and set it afire on the company’s front doorstep — except there is no other provider where we live. So we grumble and gnash our teeth and battle on.

But why should we have to do that? Why is it so hard to get good customer service these days?

And it’s not just these guys. We all have horror stories of clothes returned from the dry cleaners with missing buttons (or missing completely), hopelessly confusing cable bills, surly store clerks and contractors who won’t return calls. I don’t think it’s asking too much for a company to do what it says it’ll do, when it says it’ll do it, or call and explain what’s going on. Give me a smile and a “thanks” and I’m over the moon. It’s why I shop at Publix and Lands End, and would rather pay more at Chick-fil-A than patronize the McCompetition.

And don’t get me started on companies that only seem to value new customers. Case in point: I’ve paid my newspaper subscription bill on time without fail for the past 20 years. My loyalty is now being rewarded by refusing me the deep discount offered to new subscribers. Is it any wonder fewer people are subscribing to the paper these days?

I really think the problem starts as the top. If excellent service isn’t a priority for a company, part of its culture and emphasized to every employee repeatedly, it’s not going to happen. If a company has a monopoly, like my internet company, it might get away with haphazard service for a while. But it’s a pretty risky business strategy in the era of Twitter and Facebook. Not to mention eager entrepreneurs looking for an edge.

It’s not my style to take to social media to vent. I’d much rather talk to a human being and try to resolve the problem. But hey, I’m getting desperate here. If the internet company isn’t listening to me, at least I can make sure plenty of other people know about it with a few clicks … that is, assuming I ever get internet service.

Thanks a Lot!

By: Jeanne Reynolds

thank you note

The holidays are fast approaching, so I’m trying to give you as much heads-up as I can:

You have to write thank you notes.

Yes, you really do. And I don’t mean a text, email or Facebook/Twitter/Instagram post. Even a phone call doesn’t quite cut it. If you really appreciate the thought and kindness of the gifts you receive, and you really want the giver to know it, there’s simply no substitution for a handwritten note on real paper.

This applies to the kids, too. Even a 4-year-old can draw a picture while you write a few words for him or her. Start the habit now and it just might stick for a lifetime. (They might even thank you later.)

Oh, no, you moan: I don’t know how. I never know what to say. I don’t have time.

Well, relax. I’m going to teach you right now. It’s easy, it’s fast and you’ll feel wonderful afterward (and so will the recipient of your note). If I’m wrong, you’re welcome to pepper my front lawn with leftover mistletoe balls in January.

First, get some blank cards with envelopes or nice stationery. I prefer not to use anything preprinted with “thank you” so I can use them for other purposes. You might be surprised how much you enjoy writing on beautiful paper. And make sure you have a decent pen that won’t leave ink blobs and smears all over the paper (or you). I’m not talking fancy fountain pen here, just one that rolls smoothly.

Now, write. The basic thank-you note has just three brief sentences after the greeting:

1st sentence: “Thank you for the …” Simply say what the gift is, adding an adjective if you like. Examples: “Thank you for the lovely vase.” “Thank you for the thoughtful gift card.” “Thank you for the pretty scarf.” “Thank you for the great bottle of wine.”

2nd sentence: Describe what you like about it or how you’ll use it. Examples: “My flowers will look so nice in it next spring.” “It will really help with our upcoming vacation.” “The colors are perfect.” “I know we’ll enjoy it some evening soon.” Even if the gift is ugly as Sasquatch and you can’t imagine what Aunt Jane was thinking, you can still say something pleasant and honest. Examples: “It’s so unique.” “I’ve never had anything like it.”

3rd sentence: Praise the giver. Examples: “You were so thoughtful to remember us.” “It was so nice of you to think of me.” “It was great catching up with you.” (Just because the gift was given in person and you talked a bit, you didn’t think that got you off the thank-you note hook, did you?)

Finally, sign off with words appropriate to your relationship — “Love,” “Sincerely,” “See you soon!” or “Happy New Year to you and your family!” and your name, and you’re done.

That didn’t take long now, did it? And you’re welcome.