Once a year, most residents of the United States get together with their families and ritually “give thanks”. We call that once-a-year holiday Thanksgiving. Maybe we should be thankful more often. It has been proposed by one photography consultant that you should never say “thank you” after a meeting with a creative or potential client because it gives them the upper hand and that they should be just as appreciative of your time as you are of theirs. I disagree.
I have noticed a trend over the last few years where the cashiers and bank tellers in my neighborhood no longer say “thank you” and it pisses me off! They say “Here you go.” or “Have a nice day” and they hand me a receipt or change and I (in the habit of saying “thank you” when someone hands me something) say “thank you” and then they say “your welcome” like they just did me a favor! Sometimes they even say “My Pleasure” or “Your Welcome” even when I don’t say “Thank You”. I feel like they should be saying “Thank you for shopping at….” or “Thank you for your business.” Only when I stopped in to a convenience store and dealt with an immigrant with a heavy accent (whom I’m sure did not grow up with the Thanksgiving tradition) was I profusely thanked, possibly too many times.
So “thank you” may be dying for the teenagers in our local shops, but please don’t let it die for us. I’m not talking about gifts or “incentives”. In fact, if you are an ASMP member, you have sworn not to offer or accept bribes, kickbacks or other improper inducements (Member Code of Ethics). I am talking about a simple note via email, a hand written card, or even just a “Thank you, it was great working with you” as you leave a job or see the clients to your studio door. I don’t think that it gives them the upper hand, I actually think it endears you to them. If you get into the habit of thanking people and saying “please”, you will gain more respect. I encourage you to say please when asking your assistants to run for coffee and “thank you” when they return.
A photographer, whom I worked with in another lifetime, was talking about assisting other photographers and made a statement that made a lot of sense: “Ask me to scrub the toilet in your studio, just ask me nicely.”
The dating gurus remind you of not paying attention to just how your date treats you, but how they treat the waiter. If they are assholes to staff, they are assholes, no matter how they treat their date. If I witness anyone treating someone poorly, I lose some respect for them. You can be the greatest artist in the world, but if you are a difficult to work with, impossible to get along with, treat people poorly or are simply an asshole… next.
In a very competitive market, you may just may be remembered as that very polite photographer who says “please” and “thank you” and is just a pleasure to be around, and that’s good for your reputation and your career.