Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I Helped Her But She Has No Manners

Dear Deedra, 

There is a family I have helped over the years when I could. One of the daughters started a fundraising campaign for a once in a lifetime opportunity. She sent me, and everyone else, a mass email asking us to donate to her campaign. I thought it was a little cold, that she should have sent individual emails or even called. I decided to donate anyway. She then sent an email saying thank you but it seemed like a general email to each donor, again cold. 

I am trying to decide what to do. The young people today have no manners. They do not understand the value of sending personal thank you letters, even if by email, that make a person feel good about their help. They are so ungrateful. Should I talk to her about her lack of manners?

Not Feeling Good About Being Helpful

Dear Not Feeling Good About Being Helpful:

I agree young people today have lost the art of etiquette and manners. I agree they do not see the value in these small gestures that make everyone feel good with our social interactions. To be fair, perhaps our generation took the art for granted and did not teach the value to them. 

Personal phone calls and notes do make people feel good. When people feel good, they want to do more. When it feels more like a transaction, people tend not to want to do more, and may even not feel good about what they have done.

Perhaps she did take your gift for granted - or perhaps she was embarrassed to be more personal. Some people are embarrassed by gifts, maybe even feel they do not deserve them, and are uncomfortable expressing gratitude. Most people do fear rejection when they have to ask for something. 

None of that is acceptable. All people should learn to "suck it up" and directly ask for what they want rather than hint or make impersonal pleas - but that is about self-confidence, not just lack of manners.

We need to work on both teaching our youth self-confidence as well as manners. They do go hand-in-hand. 

Whether you should talk to her about it depends on your relationship with her. How close are you? Is giving her life advice part of your current relationship? Do you really want to help her grow or is this about your feelings?

Because I would suggest it is about your feelings. 

Would it have been nice if she had been more personal in her "ask" and in her appreciation? Of course.

But did you give the donation because you wanted to or because you wanted the appreciation?

We all like to feel appreciated. We all like to feel the things we do are appreciated.

Being upset or offended because you did not get the "appreciation" according to your "expectations" indicates you might have gotten confused about whether you were giving because you wanted to or because you wanted appreciation. 

Because that is really what this question is about. It is not that she did not ask directly. It is not that she did not send you a thank you note. It is because she did not do either according to your "expectations." 

Our individual expectations of others to act a certain way is too often the source of our disappointments - in all relationships. 

But we can change our expectations. We can choose to also appreciate the efforts of others even when they do things differently than we would have.  

We can teach our youth to do things better, or even to understand how doing things a different way has many rewards, but we must understand each generation sees things differently and will never be carbon copies of our generation - and sometimes that is a good thing, a better thing. 

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