Wednesday, February 28
Serious question here. Generally speaking some students are not very good with the words "thank you". Leaving that aside, I have one student in particular who practically _never_ says thank you. In addition to my own ego, I'm partly concerned about this trait, because I think professionally it is not going to serve him well. I have heard him in conversations with others (people who far outrank me) and he engages in the same behavior with them. I have come to think that perhaps "Okay" is his "thank you", but I think I'm being too generous and giving him the benefit of the doubt on this one too easily.

I am not exaggerating. I have gone so far as to do a search on our email exchanges. Out of hundreds of messages, not a handful come up with the words thank you or thanks. I kid you not. And believe me, given the amount of time and energy I put into our email exchanges and collaboration in general, there have been plenty of occasions when a simple thank you would have been more than appropriate.

Is this something we can address in any reasonable manner? It drives me nuts and, again, beyond it being a personal issue, I really don't think professionally this is going to be in his best interest.


fraud, in denim said...

If you've tried modeling the behavior, or thanking him time and again in interactions (both in person and via email), I recommend letting him know directly.

If it's a grad student, and you're a mentor, this is an important part of professionalization. I couldn't tell you exactly what, but I know that in my time in graduate school I picked up subtly, and not-so-subtly, certain important mannerisms, habits, and so forth from my chair.

It really is the little things that make a difference and it's a good time to let him know (which is probably easier said than done - good luck!).

Tuquoise Stuff said...

Oh yes, I should've said that I do say thank you a LOT. But that's just my tendency anyway.

Ironically, him never saying thank you has made me question whether I should always say thank you to him. I can't quite explain why, but it's had that weird effect.

fraud, in denim said...

I assumed that you were.

My partner teases me because I always say "Thank you, X" and put their name in there. He thinks it's too formal.

Do you think that you're thinking that you shouldn't say thank you to see if he notices, or because it's unreciprocated, or because it's just lazy interaction with him, or what?

Salmon Ella said...

A not-so-subtle approach would be to just tell him, "you're welcome" when you think he SHOULD have said thank you. Thisdrives home the point that, "Hey, buddy, I'm doing you a FAVOR!" and usually makes the recipient feel kind of stupid. Although, I admit, this is a snarky kind of approach and probably not all that professional. I also don't know how it would work with a serial non-thanker versus someone who just had a temporary lapse of ungratefulness (which is usually when I use it). Or, could you just say something like, "Would it kill you to say 'thank you' every once in a while?"

Anonymous said...

You should tell him! I'm guessing he's not being intentionally rude--he's just clueless.

He'll thank you for it later. :)

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about this again last night, in a more global context. It seems to me (oh dear a kids-these-days comment coming up!) that the basic requiments for respectful behavior are no longer being taught.

I'm thinking about it because I got one of Those emails from a student this week. You know the kind -- where they think 1) that in two semesters they know way more about your field and teaching in general; and 2) that their poor performance is not their responsibility. It was delivered in terms with which I would not address a dog (it was also bcc'd to the chair). Or a family member, much less a professional. And even less a professional who has a not-insubstantial amount of power over me. I went with the distant and civil response.

The thing that's bothering me about it is that there is nobody telling students that they cannot address people this way. I do feel like the student needs to be told 1) not acceptable; and 2) really stupid.
I don't feel like I _can_ say it, though, because it amounts to a threat of vindictiveness. But, since the parents so clearly failed, by whom can/should it be said?

irs and state audit representation said...

Sometimes, saying thank you can end up a close connection. Sometimes it also that same as saying goodbye that is why a lot of people don't like to say thank you. For me, I will always initiate the word thank you and they will fire it back to me. Being thankful is a kind of attitude/habit that needs some practice.