I grew up in Pakistan and our culture is a very relaxed one. We are raised with good manners but culturally we don’t say “Thank you” and “Please” to people to whom we are close.
Whereas most Americans are very polite (including my husband) and would say “please” and “thank you” to everyone all the time.
Americans are quite individualistic and independent whereas in Pakistan, society is more community based and interdependent. We usually grow up with plenty of siblings, cousins, friends and distant relatives ….. We feel that saying thank you or sorry or you are welcome is creating formality especially when you are dealing with elders, relatives, or close friends.
In Pakistan, you take it for granted that your friend will cook a meal for you when you get invited to his or her home, or that he or she will pay your portion of the restaurant bill from time to time…… the concept of going Dutch is still alien to us.
Saying thank you for these things is basically frowned upon and friends would turn around and say “Why are you being a stranger, aren’t we friends?”.
When I got married to my American husband, we had quite a few awkward moments. The first time Chris asked me “Sumera would you mind getting me a glass of water” and when I did – he responded by saying “thank you so much” . I got worried and wondered why is he being so formal. Another time he opened the door for me and I walked right in without thanking him. After a few such incidences, I asked him “Why do you always say thank you? I am your wife”. Chris then gave me the “Magic Words” speech 🙂 It took both of us some time to understand that this is only a cultural difference and none of us wanted to be sarcastic or rude. Eventually I changed myself and learned to say all these “Magic Words” because this is the culture in US and all my new friends & neighbors were always Thanking or saying Please to me. I figured being polite won’t hurt but it was definitely a big change of attitude for me.
What is your viewpoint? Do you think these words are important?.