I tweeted earlier today that I know “what makes the world a better place: saying ‘thank you’ when someone does something nice for you, no matter who that person is.”
As a civil servant, politeness is something I think about multiple times each day. It is easy to think about it in the negative case, but today was different: I was warmed by the number of people who took a moment to thank me for helping them. I also tried to thank other people, and tried to be courteous even when I wasn’t feeling courteous.
There is a trap in judging whether or not a person is “worth” receiving thanks. I used to try to figure out if someone was acting out of sincere caring — and therefore worth my sincere thanks — or if that person was acting purely out of self-interest (what’s in it for me?) or obligation (I’m paid to do this). The truth is that most acts are a mixture, and speculate though I may, I won’t ever know for certain. I would rather assume the best of others than the worst.
When my job is at its most demoralizing, thanking and being thanked makes it worthwhile. This is how I know it is important.
Thank you for reading this and for thinking about it.