Saturday, March 6, 2010

An Editorial: How Difficult Is It to Say "Merci"?

Earlier this week I was cruising the blogisphere, making my rounds, when, as the French would say "I fell upon" (je suis tombée sur) a post dedicated to the practice of giving and receiving awards in the virtual world of our peers.

I paused, I read, I (understatement here) became mildly annoyed.

Let me paraphrase the content of the post for you: "I don't 'do' awards," the author explained.

The writer went on to point out she has received many, many awards and has never posted about them and that she felt odd being put into a position where said award might require the back and forth linking, the telling of personality traits or experiences, the passing on and so forth sometimes involved. She also noted she didn't like the feeling of guilt this could inspire. (Remember I'm paraphrasing.)

This admission was accompanied by the disclaimer that she was indeed pleased if these awards and the comments to her posts inspired others on one plane or another and she was grateful for that. I'm trying to be as fair as possible in the recounting.

The post was followed by a host of "here, here and right on," comments from readers who obviously share her sentiments.

OK, that's the background for the post that has been simmering in my mind ever since I fell upon it. I can't seem to let it go. C'est plus fort que moi and perhaps you'll find I'm over-reacting. It's possible.

This is what I think:

1.) When one is given a compliment or a gift, which I consider the smallest award to be, it deserves a simple, two-word response, "thank-you." (Just like most of us do in the real world in similar situations.)

2.) Once this compliment/gift is given to another that person owns it. It no longer belongs to the giver. Therefore the person who received the generous gesture may do with it as he or she feels is appropriate, i.e. re-gift, ignore the obligations attached to it (I have no problem with that btw), never post it on their blog. Fine. Remember he or she now owns the "award" it's theirs to do with as they please.

3.) However, in my opinion, the very least the person honored with this virtual token of appreciation can/should do is make a quick click over to the giver, followed by two words in the comments box, "thank you." C'est tout.

4.) What possible ulterior motive could the giver have? Let's say for whatever reason you don't like the person's blog; you don't want to be associated with it. You think it reflects badly upon your stellar reputation. The giver is "using" you to get more followers. Whatever. So what? 

5.) Aren't we also out here to spread a little kindness, a soupçon of generosity? What's so time-consuming and unpleasant about a simple "thank you" even if one has a head full of fascinating thoughts to share on his or her blog?

6.) If we were writing in a vacuum we'd be spilling our thoughts and prose into a diary.

7.) Some see blogs as creative expressions, some to sell their creative expressions, others to vent or as some say to perhaps "inspire" others in some way, along the way. Why not? Who's to judge why any of us feel compelled to write into the abyss?

8.) And finally, the worst part for me: In the future, if I am given another compliment in the form of an award by a fellow blogger, my pleasure will be the same, but suddenly I feel if I pass it along the next person may feel unease, displeasure or annoyance. 

The first award I received was from Stephanie at Bonjour Madame. I couldn't believe it. I didn't know "awards" existed, I was thrilled. At the time I had a handful of regular readers (family plus Carole and Marsi) and Stephanie gave me this enormous gift telling me she liked what I was doing. 

You see the picture at the top? That's what I felt like on that day. I didn't even know how to link and pass on, and all the rest back then, but she made me very, very happy.

As I said, it's possible I'm overreacting. 


BonjourRomance said...

Bravo dear Tish,
Two magical little words is all it takes - Thank you Tish for your kind words and sweet spirit that you have shown me in the past few months. People like you are what makes Blogland a special place!
Mimi xo

Châtelaine - The Garden Fairy said...

Tish, I can not say anything more but that your post reflects exactly what I encouter in every day life: The lack of politeness and the dwindling of what we were taught back then in childhood days: to simply be polite, well-mannered. To say "thank you" and "please" and "pardon". I mourn the loss of decent behaviour not only in the vitural world (I had my experience of utterly impolite and kind of hate-mail tonight) but as well in every day life "out there". We can't do anything else then stick to what we were brought up with, what we lived by since and what we cherish as a base of educated and civilized human togetherness. Off from my soapbox ;-) and kind regards, Martina

That's Not My Age said...

In my short blogging life I have received two awards from fellow bloggers. I'm not into answering all the personal questions etc but I thanked both bloggers, on my blog and theirs, and I have posted the award on my blog with a thank you and their names. I think that's the decent thing to do. It's like real life, when friends show their appreciation, you don't throw it back in their face.

Marsi said...

Thank YOU, Tish, for being out there doing what you do. I am so glad to see you getting the kind of "atta girl"s and readership I think you deserve. It's been fun to watch it happen over the last year, and I hope it's a sign of more good things yet to come.


andiamo! said...

I have been reading your blog for some time and enjoy every word written, for that thank you! Please and thank you are words that are sometimes not introduced into peoples vocabulary--what a shame. Acts of kindness go very far in this life and should be cherished for what they are--a small gift that can be carried throughout the day!

Bonjour Madame said...

It's a funny thing isn't it? I am always flattered and touched when I receive an award and it's nice to know somebody actually reads what's been posted on the blog. A simple thank you is always appropriate and like you said, you can do with it what you wish after that. It's enough for me and sometimes I feel guilty about not doing more. But really I do get the warm fuzzies when they come my way. It's just sweet.

And might I say "merci!" for the mention on your blog today. You have been a stellar addition to my daily read list since I happened to find your blog. I really do enjoy reading it and your wit and charm shine through.


materfamilias said...

I've been mulling over exactly this issue, but perhaps from a different perspective. I was thrilled, recently, to receive two or three awards in the same week, each requiring 15 personal mini-revelations and linking to numerous sites. Of course, I congratulated the givers for their own awards and I thanked each one for passing it along to me.

However, at this point, I haven't yet made the time to do a reciprocal linking from my blog. And I've decided that when a do post a collective thank you, with links, I won't be answering the questions or passing the award along. Because I feel guilty/uncomfortable about this, I have considered posting an explanation which might, before I read your post, have sounded something like the post you begin by describing.

My problem is that much as I appreciate the recognition these awards represent AND the community-building they work toward, I have to fit my blogging (both writing and visiting) around a more-than-full-time job and my family responsibilities. I accept that my readers' support means that I do, despite my Blogging Without Obligations claims, have responsibilities within the blogging community, but sometimes the awards, lovely as they are, feel like one resopnsibility too many.

I'm glad to hear that I will have redeemed myself in your eyes simply by having come here to thank you as soon as I heard of an award, but I admit to having some small sympathy for the blogger whose apparent rudeness inspired your editorial. (and I think Duchesse at Passage des Perles got it just right the other day!)

Deja Pseu said...

I'm always so flattered to be given awards and I *think* I've always said "thank you" to the givers, but I will admit that I've been tardy to acknowledge them on my blog and pass them along. Thanks for the reminder. I like what you said about the gift now belonging to the giver, so that eases my guilt about this (somewhat). ;-)

Shelley said...

I can't tell if this blog post was in response to your recent Sunshine Award (thanks again!) or just that person's viewpoint in a general way. It would be very sad to give someone a nice compliment like an award and then get slapped in the face with a wet fish, so to speak; not nice at all. I do hope this wasn't your experience.

I've not yet done anything with your kind award because I've been too down with a cold to figure out where to pass it on. I think it has been in the back of my mind to wonder if I might get a fish-slap, to be honest. I think of these awards as friendly-girlie things, very affectionate and lovely, but how would the writers of some of my more 'serious' blogs I read receive it? Or are some of the more successful bloggers 'above' such things... It's really annoying to think that a compliment can get so complicated! Does one have to have a personal relationship with the blogger one admires? Should I ask permission to give the award to start with??? Who knows?

I WILL pass it on, because I WANT to put the patch on my blog (the yellow goes so beautifully with the green...) and I'm very proud of it. This is just going to take me a little while to get my act together.

It's not very hard to say "Thank you", not hard at all, but for some people it does seem to cost them a lot. I started to write and tell you not to sweat the small stuff, but it is the little things that get under the skin, isn't it? Never mind, we'll just square our shoulders and gracefully glide past these little rudenesses; they are simply beneath our notice, right?

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

"Please" and "Thank You".
There is a reason we all learn these at an early age.
They are important.

Jeanne said...


Well put and yes a simple thank you is the first response that anyone should make at the very least.

LIke you I was over the moon with my first award and am still touched when someone things enough of my blog to show that act of kindness. I agree, what one does with the award is another matter.
Hopefully they will pass it on and link back.

You just do what feels right and common sense seems to tell me you thank people for their kindness and pass it on.

I have had the occasion to sigh at trying to think of another 10 things about myself, do people really want to know? I feel bad that I might miss someone because I have felt that little pang of loss at times myself.

I think the best thing you can do is stay in touch with all those people who take the time to follow you no matter how frequent or infrequent . A simple hello puts a smile on my face and that does it for me!


Jeanne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trouvais said...

I think you outlined the etiquette "demands" of the situation perfectly. An award is a compliment, a "I think you're great". I understand when many don't want to "play along"...but I've always received gracious thank yous. Of course I'm the sort of person who, when told someone likes my dress will say..."this old thing"? Gotta work on that. XO Trish

Beadboard UpCountry said...

NO you are not over reacting. I think everyone likes being recognized, I know I do. I think you expressed some good thoughts. I have been working 24/7 as I have two design jobs going right now so I have to do on my days off... My opportunities to scan the blogosphere has been limited. I have felt badly that because of that I have not, on occasion, been able to pass on the recognition as promptly as I should..Thanks again for your recognition. Is is appreciated. Maryanne xo

Tish Jett said...

You are all so wonderful. I swear this post is not about me, not in any way.

It's about an attitude I could not have imagined existed. I thought we were all in this together, supporting one another. Obviously we cherry-pick the blogs we like and follow, the bloggers who become friends. That's what happens in the other world we live in as well.

My only surprise and disappointment was the discovery that there are bloggers who resent or are put-off or see a compliment as one more burden in a busy life.

It needn't be. I truly think all that is required is a "thank you" someplace along the line -- and take your time, no deadlines.

No one should feel compelled to comply with any of those that come with a few strings attached. By definition a gift and a compliment come with no obligations, maybe just a lovely ribbon and a sincerely kind thought.

Le Chateau des fleurs said...

THIS is great!!! You said it right. Blog world is big enough for everybody and the good you send back comes back to you someway. The minimum people can do is to thank each other. I am not good at giving people awards but no problems giving credit for people giving it to me and liking my blog. If you don't like awards put it on your blog.
Gros bisous

Jeanne-Aelia Desparmet-Hart said...

It's EXACTLY how I feel. THANK YOU: what is so difficult about saying thank you? it is the MINIMUM one says every day a million times, for change, for a gallon of milk, for the door being an award, a token of appreciaiton and admiration? The rest : the responsibility, I share your view. If you don't want to pass on, to describe yourself and so on, all right. BUT PLEASE! THANK YOU!!! You are always tellement juste Letitia! merci.

BigLittleWolf said...

I have experienced this same thing, and found it very off-putting. What I passed along as an award was for no reason other than to potentially share a site I enjoyed with others, and to say - nicely done. It was "kindly refused" behind the scenes.

Even if one doesn't want to respond elaborately - a quick "thank you for a recent award - and you know who you are" would've been fine. 'Nuff said. Mal élevé in this "community" of readers and writers.

Let me also say - you were the first to gift me with an award (I didn't know they existed either), and I couldn't have been more delighted.

I hope those of us who appreciate your good words will make up for the rare few who don't get it.

And we thank you.


aaonce said...

I understand the sentiment. The blog world appears to tolerate a lack of etiquette in a way that usually is just considered tacky in real life.

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hi Tish
Well this really is an interesting subject.. and I'm afraid I am guilty of being late to post some recent awards.. and one from yourself [merci!! ]... haha.. You know my first award had me feeling exactly as you say... as does my most recent.. It is wonderful to think that others enjoy the samplings we produce.. and I think the awards are a way of saying just that.. My only problem is I hesitate to pick a selection of blogs to pass it to.. There are so many that I enjoy reading on a regular basis it is always hard to say I pick this 7!!. I agree though it is a gift and after that I don't really worry if people post about it..

What a crazy world.. where we have to worry about offending when passing a gift or appreciation. Great post.. and Thank You once again for the lovely award you passed my way.. xx Julie

myletterstoemily said...

dear tish,

thank you for clearing up a worry i was
nursing. after i read the same post, i
began to think, "what if i don't respond
in the correct way and offend someone
because of my ignorance?"

now that was really silly, because my
plain jane blog will never receive an
award, but you have reminded me that
when you receive a gift, just say, "thank

so, thank you!

molly said...

nope, no over-reaction you're totally right on.

and actually, the 'awards' i've been given, i've blogged about, linked to, etc...but now that you mention it, gads, i DO hope i've always gone back and thanked them on THEIR blog!

i'll back track and make sure.
thanks for the tips!

metscan said...

Thank you Tish for this post! You encouraged me to start a blog of my own ( I had so little trust in myself ), and you were the first one to give me an award! Thank you once more. I was raised in a home, where thanking someone was not the habit. I have actually had to change my whole world around and start to behave differently. Now, doing so, I find it very pleasing to add a thank you here and there, numerous times a day. And, I am also trying to accept thank you´s for myself too. This is even harder; realizing finally that I am recognized and worthy of something. Thank you for having the chance to express my feelings in your blog :)/m

Morgane said...

Dear letitia

I guess i know what your talk about : i've read this blog post about the "award think" and i commented about it ! I was feeling uncomfortable about it because I award the person recently so "gloups " : i thought i did something wrong so i take it with humour , after all i'm not such a susceptible girl... But i should say that i have appreciated the post you did about my award , the kindness and the thank you.
I'm not awardind a person because i want followers and followers but just because i DO love some blogs and yours was in it ... Yes it's easy to say merci , yes you did it and je te remercie pour ça ....

Semi Expat said...

Absolutely... I do not think you are over reacting and think that to say thank you is always the polite thing to do. Strange - I would imagine that this person likes to receive comments from everyone! A little rude then not to say thank you and ignore any 'awards'... have to say I have given a few awards and only once have I had a 'non-acknowledgement'. Hope you are having a great weekend.. X

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

TU AS RAISON! I remember I used to give our "angel awards"every month with an original poem crafted especially for the person being honored. It was my pleasure, and I didn't expect anything in return other than just those two words. It makes all the difference. Thank you Tish for having been such an inspiration and kind soul.

Bisous and have a great week, Anita

Duchesse said...

I agree with most of your points, Tish, especially the "thank you".

And at the same time, I wish 'awards' did not come with instructions: thank you, now do this.

My mother always said when you give, give with an open hand. In the rest of life, do you know of awards given that require adhering to rules?

In some cases, I wonder if the award is a marketing tactic.

I'm always deeply touched when someone comments that they enjoy my blog, and appreciate sincerity of a simple thank you.

I once called out an award-giver whose text on the award (which I was told I "must" display on my blog) linked to her wed design business.

I value kindness and civility, but 'awards' with conditions on them do not seem very civil to me.

Belle de Ville said...

Thank you for posting on the topic of how to say "thank you". I too received two awards and thanked the givers of those awards in my comments on their blogs, but didn't properly thank them in the connected post on my blog. I shall do so now.

EntertainingMom said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly. I am so honored when someone thinks to give me an award.

If I cannot get to an award immediately I will let the person who gave it to know that it will show up. And I thank them whole-heartedly. While I may not like having to pick and choose award recipients (I hate it in fact) I do it. I also try to find something kind to say about my recipients. I get more than slightly annoyed when I see someone being given an honorable mention and then out of sheer laziness, says here... this is for all my readers. 'Nough said.

Also... if i ask someone to be a guest blogger it would be mighty nice if that person would actually list/link my blog on theirs. I'm glad my followers are now following that person, but it would have been courteous to direct this person's readers to my blog.

This only happened once. And this person is a supposed etiquette expert...

And I am really not holding any grudges ;)

Tee said...

You are spot on with this. Awards are a lot of work, but they're fun to get, and even to give. When a blog gets so big that the author seems to stop interacting with her readers and there is an unspoken lack of humility, I stop reading. A simple thank you is an amazing thing. I also think that is why your blog is growing by leaps and bounds. You are the epitome of style and class and you know how to make those of us who are a little rough around the edges feel welcome here.


(The award you gave me didn't have a picture attached. I'm going to swipe that top photo of you for my sidebar if that's ok.)

Sara Louise said...

Right on! Thank you for your honesty. I stumbled on a post like that as well and thought it was very rude. I didn't see the necessity in the tirade against receiving a gift of kindness. When I received my first award, I was on cloud nine for two days. I was so thrilled that someone took the time and thought of me

Carmie, the Single Nester said...

Merci Merci! I say Pay It Forward with a grande Merci! Love your blog.

Millie said...

Perfect post Tish - life's too short to get too precious about these things. This is not a subject that should be intellectualized & seriously thought over. If someone is generous enough to Award you as a Blog they feel is worthy - post on it, just do it!
Millie ^_^

Lily Lemontree said...

Bravo Tish!!
I have come across a few bloggers who I have passed awards on to, that didn't 'do' awards like you said. Not sure why (who doesn't like to be acknowledged?), but again that is up to the individual. What should not be forgotten is the elementary 'thank you', whether in the form of a quick comment, a simple email or a mention on the receiver's blog.

Pink Peony said...

I hate that myself. If they are snobs about getting an award it makes you not want to read their blogs just for spite!

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