Crossing the road in Prague this morning, I realised I was the only one who nodded a thank you to the driver who stopped to let a group of us cross. I’m not a driver myself, so perhaps I overestimate the effort involved in stopping a car, but it costs me nothing to express thanks. I feel that, on the whole, it’s right to acknowledge people if they do something for you, regardless of whether it’s in the line of duty, or a legal requirement.
I’m often on the other side of the fence, even if never at the steering wheel of a car, especially when I’m trying to sell software. I can assure you that the effort involved in preparing and showing software to a potential client is much greater than that involved in putting a foot on the brake, and doing something clever with the clutch and gears. So, when I get no thanks, it’s galling.
I’ve had to learn that there are some parts of the world where you can’t expect thanks or even small talk while you’re fiddling with the projector, but you find this unresponsiveness everywhere from time to time. You sing your heart out, and then nothing happens – no applause, no recognition, and then no responses to the emails that you send, sometimes not even an announcement that you haven’t won the prize. I’ve no problem with losing, but I like a little recognition that I ran the race.
This is sometimes a matter of corporate culture, and I admire some of the companies I’ve worked for that show some appreciation to their suppliers as well as to their employees and customers. BP and Johnson & Johnson spring immediately to mind.
Thanks and appreciation are often equally as due as fair criticism. So, spare a thought for the salesperson, even if you’re not going to buy anything. He or she has made an effort, as much for you as for himself or herself. And say thank you to the drivers who stop for you. It’s not necessary, but it’s nice.