Log in

Pleasantries- The Power of a Few Simple Words

When someone say “hello”, “good morning”, “please or thank you”, waves or simply smile and it is hard not to smile, even if it is just inside.  These are, are simple pleasantries or common courtesies, yet they are so important.  We use these words, phrases and gestures with family and friends but also when we are in a place of business.  Such good-natured remarks are even appropriate when we pass perfect strangers as we are out for our morning walk.


We smile, wave or say "hello" without giving it any thought.  However when we arrive in another country where the language is not English everything seems to change.  We may not know how to say “hello” in this foreign country and we may not know the accepted greeting; do they shake hands, bow, kiss or some other gesture?  So, what do we do?  All too often the answer is nothing and then we are embarrassed so we don’t even smile.  This is so unfortunate because Americans are famous for being friendly.


From personal experience I can tell you that making the effort with pleasantries whether in the new country in which you are living or the one you are visiting, go a long way.  When you say Good Morning in Spanish “Buenas Dias”, in German “Guten Morgen”, in Japanese “Ohayo Gozaimasu” (oh-hah-YOH go-zigh-moss)

or in French “Bonjour” before asking for something, you have already made a good impression and the person becomes more interested and willing to help you.  During a recent trip to Portugal, my husband and I entered a beautiful government building and were cautiously looking around because we didn’t know if we were allowed in the building.  We saw a stern government official and thought that we would have to leave but I said Bom Dia and smiled, the government official indicated that we were welcome to look around and take pictures.  Again, the power of pleasantries.


Although English is spoken by more and more people, the effort made by native speakers to speak the local language is appreciated.  Non-native speakers value the effort and are more likely to move to English to provide assistance.   Using pleasantries, especially in the local language, creates a win/win situation because the simple action of using a pleasantry made someone smile and you received what you wanted as well.  Smile and say Good Morning in England, Goed Morgen in the Netherlands, Ni hao in China or Buongiorno in Italy and the world gets a little better.

© 2023 FAWCO

Please publish modules in offcanvas position.