On why please isn’t really the magic word.

We teach our children manners with varying degrees of success. Echos of “please”, “thankyou”, and the ever elusive “sorry” resound at many a family gathering.

However, I contend that none of these words is truly magic. Not one of them is transformative unless backed up by good intentions and consistent behaviour, and every single one can be cheapened by careless or deceitful use.

Teaching children music, raising my own children, even tackling new challenges myself, I have discovered the magic word turns out to be…


Such a simple word transforms a negative definitive statement to an observation with an underlying intent.

“I don’t know how to play piano.” says the small child. “No, small child,” you can say, “You don’t know how to play piano yet.”

“But Dad, I can’t do this maths.” he says, and you say, “Yet, son. You can’t do it yet.”

I haven’t written a book yet, but on the other hand I can’t imagine picking up a musical instrument and putting it down again without at least trying to play it. That yet is written in to my attitude because I am confident I can have a go at the very least. If only my self confidence extended to everything I ever had to face.

Maybe you’re not comfortable using technology or being a manager or you’re not confident speaking in public. Yet.

Frankly, the other magic words can take a jump; not the common courtesy, you understand, but definitely the mystique. This is my thing now. The way to shake the blues when something looks impossible.

You can beat yourself up, and tell yourself all the “don’t” and “can’t” and “won’t” and “haven’t” statements in the world, but dropping that one word on the end gives me hope that you’ll overcome.

After all, if you can deploy the magic word and declare even the smallest intent to win, you’re already halfway to facing the problem head on. And that’s usually the best way to beat it.


2 Responses to On why please isn’t really the magic word.

  1. kate Goodall says:

    I do think please, thank you and all the rest of it is important, as long as the teaching includes understanding. To ‘yet’ I’d add ‘well done’. Most of us don’t get things right, or perfect, all the time. But if we’ve tried hard and nearly got there, encouragement goes a long way.

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