The Simplicity of Please and Thank You

yes please thank you
The simplest words, Yes, Please, and Thank You

By: Justin Ferguson

Please and Thank You, arguably some of the first words most of us learn.  These words are simple in their nature but extremely powerful.  So, why are they sometimes abandoned?

The answer to that last question will forever be a mystery, one could surmise why this may be – being in a hurry, improper child rearing, lack of manners, or any number of other reasons.  For each of us, it is our individual choice how we decide to communicate with our fellow human.  None of us are ever perfect, as perfection is simply a goal to strive for, but by choosing to try to reach perfection when it comes to please and thank you, we will make society a better place and we will live aSmarterWay.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary:  “We use please to make a request more polite” and “We use expressions with thank you to respond to something politely and to show we are grateful for something

We use please and thank you to be more polite in our dealings with others.  However, by being more polite, people are more apt to respond favourably to your request of them.  Therefore, the use of please and thank you have an absolute power to convince others to help you do something.  Although, I think this is generally accepted as true, it can be even more the case when people are not used to being treated politely.   This is something leaders must remember; it is easy to bark orders and in the Prince, Machiavelli teaches that it better to be feared than loved, specifically stating: “It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with.”

The linkage to Machiavelli is not provided as a point of contention, nor is necessarily an endorsement of his teachings.  However, it is used, as many prescribe either consciously or sub-consciously to this principle.  What this teaching does not however say is that one cannot be polite in their dealings.  Therefore, one does not need to bark orders to be feared but rather could be both feared and polite.  In fact, it could be suggested that a leader who is polite and respectful will receive better cooperation from those they are trying to motivate.  To take this a step-further, I will suggest a good leader does not need to motivate by fear at all because they will be self-aware to understand that they are in fact already feared.  Therefore, allowing them to be loved, which may be how one can achieve both qualities Machiavelli describes.

However, back to the simplicity of saying please and thank you.  I am often brought into help on a project where there is a disconnect between a leader(s) and their team, or simply the leadership team as a whole.  One of the first things I notice, is there has been a breakdown in communication within the team and/or there has been a loss of respect, both of which can happen for all sorts of reasons.   Although, there can be a lot of steps that need to be taken to get a project back on track, one of the first is to try to regain a level of decorum and re-open those communication channels.  Often, it can easily start by simply being polite and genuinely saying those first words we learned – please and thank you!

If we all strive to be perfect when it comes to please and thank you, we will live aSmarterWay!

Justin Ferguson is the Principal of Cosmos Strategies, the Founder of, an avid marathoner, a supporter of charities, including: Wake Up Narcolepsy and Sick Kids Hospital, and a believer that anything is possible.


Don’t Be Afraid to Stand Out

“Each of us has the power to stand out.” – Justin Ferguson

By: Justin Ferguson

At a point in time we stopped being individuals in favour of fitting in or maybe it has always been that way dating back to the first existence of humankind.  However, none of us are born that way, we did not wake up and say I want to be the same as everybody else, we morphed into that.  Through societal rearing we were conditioned to believe this.  We were conditioned to believe that we must fit in, that we cannot stand out.

Yes, it is easy to say that this just isn’t true, that constantly we are told to stand out, that of course we are each individuals, which at face value would be accurate.  However, for one to say this, is simply not good enough or perhaps it is but not for me.

People must be encouraged to not be afraid to stand out, to feel free to sit however they choose, to wear what they want, to look how they want, to be an individual!  It is not for each of us to decide, to judge a person on how they want to live, it is for us to only care about how we get along with that person.  It remains our choice on how we view somebody else, the same as it is their choice how they want to present themselves but what it is not, it is not our choice to judge them.  And, yes that could open a discussion on what is the definition of judgement but that is for a different post.

As children or in adulthood, people do things because they feel as though that is what others want, which they believe will lead to them being liked or promoted or whatever.  However, this completely robs the world of that individual’s input, it robs people of actually knowing the true you.  If we continue to shape people to fit in, we are robbing ourselves of possibly the next brilliant mind.  Yes, some overcome and rise above but should we not be encouraging everybody to think for themselves?

Society has a role to play, it needs to teach right and wrong and give people the tools they need to survive physically and mentally but it does not have the role of standing in judgement when an individual wants to express themselves in a non-crimonious way.

By encouraging people from an early age to believe it is ok to not be part of the popular group, to not care how others view them, to stand out, we will shape society to be more accepting and we will build better leaders, who advance our reality beyond what is known today.

All of that is not to say that there are not people who already stand out, leaders who stand out, that take risks, and accept the consequences, there certainly are but for everyone of those people, there are many who don’t overcome the pressure society puts on them to fit in.

If each of us encourages people to not live in fear of judgement, to not be afraid of standing out, our world will exist in aSmarterWay.  It is simple to achieve, all we have to change are our own perceptions and not care how others view things.  By being a leader, others will follow.

As Dr. Seuss said: “Why fit in, when you were born to stand out?”

Justin Ferguson is the Principal of Cosmos Strategies, the Founder of, an avid marathoner, a supporter of charities, including: Wake Up Narcolepsy and Sick Kids Hospital, and a believer that anything is possible.