A Study on Manners
Politeness. It is Simply Too Much To Ask.
I am a Businessman in the employ of Voiceovers, and as such I employ manners with my customers and colleagues. But there is a conundrum that continues to perplex me.
Correct me if I am wrong here, but I was taught by CocoMelon that “please” and “thank you” were all part of manners. Manners are when you say “please” and “thank you”, which I have come to understand is the opposite of “Give me this now or I will kill you with a hammer.”
I do not know when manners became suddenly ex vogue, but at one point or another, helping people has occasionally become somewhat like going absolutely bonkers and willfully volunteering to work with junior-highers, which no one should ever do due to the following Inescapable Side Effects:
- You will be consumed day and night with angst.
- They simply do not grow older into reasoning, enjoyable human beings with whom you can share a beer which will currently land you in jail for doing so.
- You are paid the sum of zero dollars forever.
- You will develop pimples as a result of The Stress
- You will play “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls on a punishing loop.
- You begin to understand that five side-effects are not enough, so this sentence is also here.
As a widely-known voiceover mentor who gives of his time freely, I have helped many an aspiring voiceover artist. I count it my joy and my responsibility. Occasionally, however, I happen upon the unthankful sap who faintly resembles a walking umbilical cord. They plug in, sap me dry, and when I cut the cord, they, and their gratitude, are nowhere to be found. They come back at random inconvenient intervals, posing intrusive questions and - I am not kidding - telling me to send them free things, with nary a “please” to boot. When I receive such requests, it warms my heart with that same comfy Antarctic chill I get when I am knocked out, my kidneys are removed against my will to be sold on the black market, and I am placed in an ice tub and then launched into deep space. Every time this happens I miss Jeopardy, dammit.
As a result, I just do what comes naturally: Ignore their email until they start saying please again.
Passive aggressive? Sure. Satisfying? 100% enjoyably so.
It is also the same with some customers, who I want to kill with a hammer.
Mind your Peath’s and Pssssss's
I have written about this before. I will yet again link to myself, because linking to oneself is cool. When Brennan was a toddler and was learning to speak, he would say “peath” instead of please. It was adorable, and often made burly, unflappable lumberjacks pass out due to cuteness. We would periodically hold him up to random lumberjacks to test this.
Now that Asher is also learning to speak, his is a bit more whispery. Asher says “Pssssss”, which the pediatrician tells us is a cross between:
- beckoning us to come to him,
- informing us he has just peed, and
- a signal that he is part serpent
But both of our boys understand completely that “please” and “thank you” are indispensable elements to receiving what they desire. They are grasping that these words are essential to receiving food, heat and love from us. Assuming they make it to teenagerhood, I am positive that they will discover that they no longer need to employ such pleasantries, and if my wife and I do NOT provide food, heat and love, we will be promptly sent to jail. At that point they will simply start demanding things from whatever court-appointed supervisor they are assigned to. Eventually we will have to share our jail cell with a growing count of court-appointed supervisors who have also stopped giving them things, and we will all sing campfire songs, talk to our hands, and plan to work with junior-highers.
Ultimately, that’s the way society is headed. "Give me this now, or you receive a negative Yelp review." Extortion seems to now be required learning, and as one of my sons is part serpent, he needs alternative teaching to steer him away from this type of slithery behavior.
But for now, they are not teenagers, and they are doing well. Brennan, the ever-demanding prima donna actor-in-training (I simply do not know where he gets it!) will still sometimes slip into attention-seeking cries of “Hey! HEY! HEY!!!” before I angrily reach for the chainsaw. It is at this point that he realizes the need to shift gears and engage decorum, correcting that to a timid “Um…excuse me?” I then finally stop seeing red, and start handing him $20’s.
And now you also know what to do should you ever need $20’s from me.
The Continuing Erosion of Manners
How does this apply to our voiceover career? It applies because this is my blog and I am incapable of lying. *sound of wicked wife-laughter from a distant room* But the truth is -*sound of more wicked wife-laughter from a distant room* - that it applies because no one should ever work with junior-highers. I am joking. That was unfair of me. They are human beings too; so if we place these precious prepubescents in strategic positions throughout the summer camp along with the velociraptors, we will no longer encounter a dilemma of working with junior-highers.
As voiceover artists, we are human beings who are to deal humanely with human beings. We are not unemotional cyborgs, and neither are our clients. It should be our aim to employ manners in all of our conversations with them. And it should be their aim as well. Doubtless, you will receive those last-minute requests from clients who fail to plan (and thus plan to fail), need everything yesterday, and then blame YOU for their shortcomings when you decline. Here I refer to an excellent blog by Paul Strikwerda on this subject.
It irks me to no end to see clients take advantage of freelancers under the guise of “The Customer Is Always Right.” I am sorry, but that is as true as anything that is utterly false, such as Wal-Mart saying “Our customers are perfectly normal.” Everyone knows Wal-Mart is filled with colorful characters who are anything but normal. Just the other day I saw a Wal-Mart customer wearing a halter-top around his knees, a saddle, a cape, and a battle thong. I am not kidding. The creature was shopping in the hosiery aisle with a stalk of lettuce in one hand and a Teen Beat in the other.
I do not think that was my point.
My point is that we live in an anti-social media world. Social media was designed for us to be social. And yet it has proven counterintuitive: driving our ubiquitous Epicurean collective deep into our smartphones, seemingly oblivious to the stranger on our right who is mourning because a loved one has just died, sapping us of our ability to relate to each other properly. Oh well. We have things we need to like and follow and subscribe to. I am sure they understand as hot lonely tears roll down their face.
I think we should try to be more social. Good social behavior necessitates using manners, and when people use manners, I have to use my chainsaw less frequently.
And as for our customers? Customers will always take advantage of us and expect things yesterday. It is up to us to take the abuse, deliver what they want and get paid, or get angry and insist that they buy a time machine to accommodate their yesterday needs more easily. What helps me personally when a customer is unreasonable and rude to me? I just pray quietly to myself, "May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your crotch, and may your arms be too short to scratch them." Then I pronounce Wiccan spells over them and all of their descendants. Especially their junior-highers.
See, when you are dead, you do not know you are dead. The pain is only felt by others. The same thing happens when you are irretrievably stupid. So please, take an online etiquette class, use manners, and do not be stupid and cause pain. I should make bumper stickers.
And remember, always remember and never forget this: even if a client does not employ manners when dealing with you, always treat them with respect. It is never, never OK to kill them with a hammer.
Unless of course you are at junior-high summer camp and wearing a hockey mask you got from Wal-Mart. If so, go nuts…please.
Final Bullet Points:
- Like this blog? My children are counting on you to put bread on our table through the purchase of one of my books. By the way, low-guilt-trip sales pushes are my specialty
- NOTE: This blog is purely for commentary / educational / entertainment purposes. I make no money from these blogs; though I do not refuse large cash gifts if it means I can pretend I am a church
- Check out my whole UNIVERSE of blogs right HERE!
- This is a fourth bullet point.
AND HEY! WAIT JUST A S.E.C.!
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- E-NCOURAGE: Go encourage someone else today with a single, simple sentence of affirmation. Tell them, “I like your earrings”, unless of course they are manly men, in which case you should compliment them on the size of their chainsaw.
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Seattle Voice Actor & Voiceover Artist for hire