A word of advice for servants

rogersgeorge on August 26th, 2012

This doesn’t have to do with writing, exactly, and it doesn’t have to do with grammar, but it does have to do with language, and, well, meaning. Or implication.

Situation one: No doubt you  have sometimes been a servant of some sort—waiter in a restaurant, retail store clerk, employee. Maybe even a person behind the counter at the DMV. All these folks are servants.  We don’t think of being in these positions as being a servant, but really that’s what they are. Sometimes you place yourself temporarily in a position of servitude, such as when you hold the door for someone.

Generic servant. You should see some of the images Google came up with.

Situation two: Occasionally you might do someone a favor when you’re not in a position of servitude, and you’re inconveniencing yourself a little (or a lot) such as when you hand someone a quarter for the parking meter.

Situation three: Sometimes you give someone a gift. Holiday presents, of course, but smaller times, too, such as when you bring some extra napkins to the table in the lunch room to share with your companions, and one of them grabs a napkin, acknowledging it with a “thank you.”

In all these situations, when someone thanks you, how should you respond?

Situation three: “You’re welcome.” Use this when you’re holding the door, by the way—you don’t have time to say anything longer.

Situation two: “No problem.” This is a common response in a lot of situations, but the implication is that you didn’t mind the inconvenience.

Situation one: Use either “My pleasure” or “Glad to be of service.” Do not say “No problem.” When you are serving someone, your goal is to make the experience pleasant for them. That’s how restaurants get repeat customers. Tell them you are happy to serve, don’t say that you can stand being inconvenienced. People like to be told that what they are doing is pleasing.

When it comes down to it, you can pretty much always say “my pleasure” and you will make life more enjoyable for the other person. Isn’t that a nice thing to do?

Now somebody comment on this post and thank me for sharing the insight. Then I can say that I am pleased to be of service.

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One Response to “A word of advice for servants”

  1. Genuinely curious: how you personally respond when a servant says “There you go?” This is often a bit of verbal judo that is used to illicitly elicit a “thank you” for someone doing his/her job.


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