To “Please” or not to “Please?”

Bringing back “Please” makes for good relationships.

  • “Please” converts a demand into a mutually negotiable request.
  • “Please” rolls over into a mutual acknowledgment which feels good.

Background:

In a number of marriages and relationships, up to and including my own, “Please” may be seldom heard.

I may believe I am implying “Please” when I’ve made a request of my spouse, partner, child, friend or coworker, but I have it on very good authority (my spouse) that my requests are generally perceived as demands, orders to be followed.

It makes sense to say “Please.”

In many cultures, including ours, marriage partners often experience an unexpressed male-female power imbalance.

In classic husband-family structures:

The Male (or whomever is the dominant) partner assumes and acts as if spouse and children will do as they’re told. The male/dominant partner gets irritated when their requests are not honored by immediate compliance. In classic male/dominant partner structures there is no need to say, “Please.”

And indeed, we may hear an occasional “Please” in the dominant partner’s communication. For example, “Would you do this, Please?” However, while we may hear a dominant partner communicate their requests with “Please” – compliance by the spouse or child is still expected, assumed.

In alternative spouse – family structures based upon mutual honor and respect: when either party adds “Please” it allows both partners to either: accept, counter offer, or decline without any assumptions or expectations.

Accept: My partner says, “Okay,” and fulfills the act or service requested:

  • I feel cared for. Love is present.
  • I get to acknowledge their contribution to me with a, “Thank you.”
  • They say, “Your welcome” and the acknowledgment loop is complete.
  • Everybody feels connected. Love is present.

Counteroffer: My partner says, ” Okay, but it will have to be [later than now]. Is that Okay?”

  • I say either, “Yes, that’s Okay” or,
  • “No, that’s alright. I’ll take care of it.”
  • Then I go ahead and accomplish what I wanted done.
  • Everyone is clear as to who is accountable.

Decline: My partner says, ” I won’t be able to get to it. Not possible, sorry.”

  • I get to say, “Okay, thanks for letting me knew. I’ll handle it.”
  • I proceed to fulfill what I desired.
  • I may feel disappointed that my partner could not take on my request. However,
  • Everyone is clear as to who is accountable. No fuzziness.

Without our “Please” everything we say may land as orders – even if that was not our intention.

So: to “Please” or not to “Please?”

For me that is no question.