“Insincerity” vs “Manner”: Expecting and Expressing gratitude

Actually I wrote this in Bahasa Indonesia and posted it into my other blog, but I think I want to share it in English, too, because, who knows it can reach more people ^^ But, well, actually I have had this thought since long time ago, but recently this issue rose up again, so I think it’s better to write down my thoughts on this, which surprisingly did not really change.

This is not related to the post, but since I also posted this pic with the writing in my other blog, so I thought I wanted to post it here too. It’s a traditional (remote) village in Indonesia 🙂

So, it began with a public figure, he was quite famous, who tweeted about this girl, for whom he opened and held the door, but who did not say thank you. This guy then yelled “thank you” at her to show that that was what she was supposed to have done but she didn’t. He then implied that this girl did not have “manner”. Then as usual, it’s a virtual world where people often feel entitled to voice their opinion, right? (Just like what I am doing now. LoL) So people started discussing this, some think that the guy was “insincere” since he was expecting a “thank you” in return, while the others sided with him thinking that “Yeah, we’ve been in crisis of this mannerism.” A friend of mine was, I guess, one of the latter. She then asked me which side I was, whether I was “pro manner” or “pro sincerity”. Well, as you might have guessed, you know where I stand for this matter. First and foremost: being sincere and having manner have “no correlation”.

Have you ever done something for or giving something to someone and that person looked really happy and then thanked you many times? In fact, we did not think that what we did or gave was a big thing. It was not a big deal. Yet, by showing gratitude and saying “thank you”, that person made you feel happy. Not because you’re craving for such gratitude, of course not, but because it makes you feel worthy. It makes you feel like you’ve done the right thing, that what we did wasn’t in vain, that our existence and what we do matters. Well, yes, I know this sounds hyperbolic, but sometimes I need to make it personal so you can relate.

Now let’s move to another scenario. Have you ever done something for or giving something to someone or a friend but then the response was flat? Like, instead of saying thank you, s/he showed disappointment, and complained because what you did or gave wasn’t enough? Meanwhile, it took you a great deal to do or give that thing for him/her. It could be that you had to save money to buy him/her stuff. It could be that you made time to do or gave that thing even though you were really busy and your schedule was driving you crazy. Have you had such experiences? Then it saddened us because it turned out that what we did, what we gave, was not enough, not appreciated. We were sad not because we wanted to be thanked by him/her, no, of course not. We were sad because our efforts turned out to be “in vain”. It was useless. It’s meaningless.

Another picture of me in another traditional village in Indonesia. This one is Kampung Bena, in Bajawa, Flores.

Now, can you picture the point I’m trying to say here? Well, if you want to say I’m the “insincere” type for expecting people to show their gratitude, then go ahead, I don’t mind. But just so you know, I’d prefer giving something to someone whose eyes will sparkle for that and thank me, instead of giving something to someone who does not know how to say “thank you” and who, instead, complains because s/he thinks wha we did/gave is “too little” or “not enough”. Well, if people who refuse to say “thank you” try to act religious saying that “if you’re insincere, then don’t help”, well, if they’re Muslims, maybe they forget this verse saying “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]” (QS 14:7). I don’t mean to humanize God, but there must be a reason why this verse exists. Even God favors people who show gratitude a.ka. know how to say “thank you”, then will you still think that it’s because God is insincere about what He does or gives to His creation?

So, let me repeat: sincerity has nothing to do with mannerism. Doing/giving something to someone who ain’t grateful is like doing something in vain. Personally I hate uselessness. Doing “nothing” is still better than that. So if someone refuses to say “thank you” and hides behind “if you’re insincere, then don’t help”, well, good luck with that. But please, stay away from me. I’m not an angel, okay? Sometimes I even get upset when somebody asked me a question then I gave him/her an answer but then s/he didn’t respond back even if it’s just to say “I see” or “I get it”. Why? Well, it’s not that I’m being insincere or being jerky by expecting his/her gratitude, no, but because, well, you know that I could have used the time I spent to answer the question for something more important, yet s/he did not appreciate it. Like, for example, if we gave some food to someone and s/he throws it away in front of us, won’t you be upset? Again, not because we’re insincere or expecting gratitude, but just think of it, we could’ve given that food to somebody else who’ll be happy to receive it, who’ll feel helped with it, who’ll be grateful. It will be more useful, not in vain. Even if we gave it to stray cats or chicken, it could’ve been more meaningful since they must be happy getting n eating it. Right? They’re happy, and so are we. That feeling that what you are and what you do matters is meaningful; it is significant. Whether we do something good, or whether someone does something good to or for us. After all, aren’t we living this life in this world in search for meanings? So why makes it so hard to smile and say “thank you” to appreciate someone’s efforts? It’s free. It won’t hurt. You’ll also be happy when you do something and people thank you for that, right? No? Well, if you want to say “no” and insist that I’m saying this because I’m insincere and expecting gratitude, then I don’t know what else to say. But if you just take some time to think, we don’t have to accuse someone of being insincere for our own inability to express gratitude. We can’t say that people are being insincere just because we don’t have good manners. I think it’s better that, when someone reminds us of our fault or points out our mistake, we can learn to admit it, say sorry, and learn from it. And don’t, instead, try to find their faults to defend ourselves. Yes, I know this is not easy. There is pride and ego, too. I’m still learning myself; especially because I’m the naturally-defensive type, so you can imagine how hard it is for me. But, well, hard doesn’t mean impossible. We can learn together 😊

PS: Just fyi, manner is on top of my list. If you’re good looking but have no manners? Well, bye. If you’re smart but have no mannrs? Well, hold on, how can you say someone is smart if they don’t have manners? It should be questioned when someone claims to be smart but has nos manners! Attitude and kindness matters MORE 😊

PPS: Later I learned that it seems people debate about this because the guy who opened and held the door for the girl was kinda “notorious”. I mean, it seems that some people don’t like him. But, hey, come on, regardless of who says it, we know that the topic is about manner, about the importance of having manners. But, yeah, I admit that he could’ve done it in a better way. I mean, his advocating for mannerism. Had he not yelled, it could’ve been different. Yes, I know, good intention should be actualized in a good way. But, hey, sometimes people just can’t be treated “softly”, but, well, I don’t know. What do you think, anyway?

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