'Please' is for favours, not orders

When you have no claim on someone, yet you hope they will be magnanimous, its a useful word.

'Please sir', may I have some more?'

When you are part of a team, people are equals, and everyone's actions benefit everyone else, this works better: 'Could you....?

'Could you pick some mint for the potatoes?'

'Please' is also useful to get someone to pass you something.

'Salt please'.

Otherwise, 'Please' is used to disguise the fact that you are giving someone an order, forcing them to do something they don't want to. Its also a useful way to slip in a bit of scary threat, express your restrained displeasure.

'Turn down the music please'

If you are giving or receiving orders at home, you aren't on the same team.

Listen to the difference:

'Could you unstack the dishwasher for me? "

'Please unstack the dishwasher.'

'Hey. The dishwasher isn't unstacked. What happened?'

'Could you' shows your home is operating as a gift economy. They already pull their weight, this is an extra you hope they have time to do.

'Please' here is an order. Somehow, you got to be autocrat. They can't say 'no'. But they can ignore you, resist you, and the downward spiral of doing all the work, giving all the orders continues.

'What happened' is a genuine enquiry. Everyone's contributions to the household have been negotiated in advance, yet something got in the way. Now you both find out what happened, or re-negotiate.


For many years, I've hosted Volunteer helpers in my home, though WWOOF, Numondo and HelpX

These beautiful travellers give their talents and labour, helping me make my Permaculture dreams come true.

I give them a lovely home, honour them with wonderful food and teach them new skills. I help them discover what's wonderful about themselves.

Everyone wins, every day. I only say 'please' to get them to pass me things.

I recommend everybody who wants a good life to become a host or traveler. You need good communication for it to be satisfying. But you need good communication anyway. May as well learn it on people who come and go, than annoy your family forever. This summer, I'm doing hands-on home 'declutter and reset' projects in Melbourne. Clear out your spare room. Clear out your communication. Get volunteer supporters for your projects. Or a more supportive family. 'Less stuff, more people' I can probably help you, wiht both the declutter and the communication.

Feel free to contact me and tell me what you hope for.


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