Laura Kempsell: Watch your Ps and Qs!

I AM sick and tired of people expecting me to do something for them but not saying please or thank you.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 6th October 2011, 1:58 pm

I’m not asking for a pretty please or even a cherry on top, just a basic, no-nonsense, common courtesy please.

Oh, and a thank you to follow, of course.

The whole “Could you pass me a pen?” way of asking for a favour is irritating.

My ideal response would be “Yes I could, if you could say please.” but, obviously, that is not always the best way to play it.

I definitely take after my mother, who is a stickler for manners.

And why not? It is gratious, thoughtful and, most importantly, doesn’t cost a penny to be polite.

And do you know another bug bear of mine? Huh?

Why not “pardon”? Or “excuse me”? Or even – if you have time to form a sentence – “sorry, I didn’t hear you, what did you say”?

At my house, in my own surroundings, I feel quite at home extracting a please or thank you from visitors – especially if I am feeding such guests!

But out in the wider world, I find myself biting my tongue most days and then becoming disgruntled.

After a little bit of research into my need for politeness, I see that sociolinguists Brown and Levinson have identified two kinds – negative politeness and positive politeness.

Negative politeness is apparently making a request less infringing by adding “If you don’t mind...” or “If it isn’t too much trouble...” to your ask.

And positive politeness “seeks to establish a positive relationship between parties; respects a person’s need to be liked and understood”.

Such complexities are not what I’m aiming for. Just simple Ps and Qs.

Some might say life’s too short to get your knickers in a twist about something so trivial as manners.

To that I have two answers. One, it isn’t trivial. And two, manners make life just that bit lovelier at no extra cost.

Say please and you will find that I am more than happy to help.

Say thank you and you are also likely to get service with a smile.

It’s pretty easy. Want me to do you a favour? No problem. Just watch your Ps and Qs! Please.