I work in a small busy office. One employee in particular insists that every time we ask them to do anything, we should start with please and thank you no matter how busy we are. While it is certainly polite to do so, to stop to do this every single time in a really busy environment is time consuming.

This is an employee who we have to speak to every day, several times a day. I thought that social protocol in situations like this is to avoid 'please' and 'thank-you's to keep the flow going and be more productive with the understanding that you are a team working together towards a common goal.

I have never had to work with someone who demanded at every turn that this takes place, I thought if we were working together you did not have to say, please and thank you a 100 times.

Whenever we ask anything of this employee, her reaction is extreme and aggressive. She is always more prepared to ask for the please and thank you than to help and be a team member.

When you come to her and ask if something can be done she will find millions of reason as to why it can not get done.

Then, to make matters worst she will not at any point no matter how simple, like putting a letter in an envelop go out of her way to help the team when she can see we are swamped, because it is not on her job description.

At this point she has managed to alienate everyone in the team to the point they rather not request anything from her. Then she walks around asking is everyone OK, does anyone need anything I can help with, and as soon as we fall for the trap, we are back to square one, please and thank you, no I can't do that, and you will have to do that, it is not in my job description.

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    "Please" and "thank you" take less than half a second each. I can't believe this is the biggest barrier to productivity you face. – Philip Kendall Mar 2 '16 at 6:51
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    @AntonioFox Everyone has their own communication quirks. "Live and let live" applies here. – Brandin Mar 2 '16 at 8:52
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    OK, so from your edit it's clear that your real problem is that your employee is just generally not behaving in a professional manner. You need to concentrate on that, not on the very minor issue of pleases and thank yous. – Philip Kendall Mar 2 '16 at 9:14
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    Take it to management, or drop it. Your choice. There is no other useful course of action. – keshlam Mar 2 '16 at 13:16
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    "Please stop being an ass who pisses everyone off with unreasonable expectations of decorum. Thank you." – HopelessN00b Mar 4 '16 at 17:18

So you are saying to her "Could you do X for me? " which she should do, because that's her job, and instead of doing it she says "You must say 'please' first". Well, not saying "Please" is slightly impolite. The reply is absolutely impolite.

To be honest, nobody will ever force me to say "please". My first reply would be "Could you repeat that?", my second reply would be "Are you going to do X or not?", and then would come the question "So to make clear that I understand you correctly: You are refusing to do X"?

Well, that's me. But as you said, she has alienated herself from everyone in the team; people are not asking her to do her job which means she doesn't do her job, and I would prefer a situation where she realises that she is getting on people's nerves and alienating herself and changes her ways.

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    +1 - No one is perfectly polite all the time, so do your job or I'm going to put everything you do under a microscope. – user8365 Mar 2 '16 at 18:28

If it's a colleague not a superior then they don't have authority to demand anything like that.

I say Please and Thank You in multiple languages all day every day whether it's to my workers, my kids, or the cleaning lady, and whether they reciprocate or not. But unlike your colleague I don't expect everyone else to do the same to me.

Just speak how you please, if they sabotage work because of it, take it up with your manager. Don't mention why, just say X didn't do Y-task which is creating workflow issues again. Then X can explain to the manager it's because you didn't say 'Please'.

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At least in the US, social protocol requires "thanks". Maybe not on every micro-transaction, but certainly at the end of an interaction.

The overhead is minimal, and people appreciate knowing that their efforts are appreciated.

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  • Thanks for responding, We have in countless ways shown that we appreciate her in the team, yet her demeanor does not change, and to make matters worst, it's making the environment really negative in the office. I added more to the situation in the question, let me know what you think. Thanks :) – Antonio Fox Mar 2 '16 at 8:20
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    This isn't an issue of protocol. The colleague is making an unreasonable demand. It's probably an unconscious assertion of power, what little of it she can muster. – rath Mar 2 '16 at 9:33
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    My answer was appropriate for the question as originally posed. – keshlam Mar 2 '16 at 13:13

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