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Opinion

Thank those who deserve it, stop finding new things to complain about

Kirsten Blake

September 18, 2009

Observe the following scenario:

“OMG! Jen always leaves her dishrag in the sink. She’s been doing it for months and it’s always disgusting!”

“Have you told her it bothers you?”

“No…”

“Then shut the fuck up.”

This is the information age.

Technology has made communication easier than ever (or more complicated, depending on your view) with Facebook, text messaging, e-mail, voicemail, twitter, mobile uploads, etc., however it has not yet mastered telepathy. If a person doesn’t tell someone what they’re thinking, how does anyone know?

It’s a pathetic thing to observe a professor begging for feedback, asking if everyone understands the concepts being taught, yet doesn’t get so much as a head nod in return. How is an educator supposed to know if their methods are effective? Blank stares can mean complete comprehension, incomprehension, or that we’ve wandered off into a fantasy land where the grass is green and the girls are pretty.

What is even more disturbing is that if a student does express his/herself through the proper channel to the proper person and the communication results in a positive change, the change is often taken for granted.

For those readers who have never seen gratitude expressed properly, it goes like this:“Thank you, Jen, for not leaving your dishrag in the sink.” The End. Simple right? So why is it so rare?

It seems as though gratitude is a lost concept among Generation Y as well as how to express wants, needs and disagreement in a respectably human way.

Students (among others) can be observed frequently bitching and complaining, whining and wanting, demanding things from their school and government, offering a fair amount of criticism yet not following through with any type of action.

Dining Services is a frequent target of whiners. After Dining Services was able to weasel out information from its patrons through surveys and booths, it seemed as though the students wanted a better salad bar, more non-meat options and better selection of vegetables.

When Dining Services said “yes” and created the salad toss, did anyone bother to say, “Thank you, Dining Services, for taking my opinions and wants into consideration” or even “Thanks for trying, but another salad option wasn’t what I had in mind”?

Hint: positive reinforcement is more useful than bitching to friends. Feedback from well-written letters and professional phone calls are more useful than bitching.

Most anything is more useful than bitching.

Whining gets you nowhere.

If you find yourself pleased with a service, or if you think someone has done a good job at something, let them know.

In fact, there is an entire industry of paper products engineered specifically for the purpose of expressing gratitude. They’re called thank-you cards. Showing appreciation can also be nonverbal or unwritten. Waitress kept your water glass full? Give her a nice tip.

There are a number of people out there who don’t get thanked enough, including good professors, men who shave, women who shave, mothers, brothers, friends, event planners, the ladies at church who made the coffee and brownies, co-workers, people who show up on time, and custodians who mop up the vomit in stall A from Thursday night before your shower on Friday.

My advice: Stock up on thank-you cards, nice papers and do some good with them. Temper tantrums and the silent treatment won’t get you anywhere if you’re trying to instill change. What does is educated discussion, polite persuasion, gratitude and compromise.

Kirsten Blake is an alumna of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.