It is another super fun Saturday morning with Bettina in Frinton on Sea.  Before we go for a walk on the beach, we must have a drink and a cake in our favourite (50s themed) coffee bar, ‘Pop-Pins.’   

Bettina has already chosen a cup-cake and a hot chocolate.  Bettina is pleasantly surprised when a waitress comes over with a with a couple of chocolates, which we had not ordered, as she thought Bettina would like them with her hot drink.  “Thank you very much” is Bettina’s response.  Her eye contact:  beautiful smile and (because she is not used to hearing Bettina speak as her verbal communication is limited) the spoken words delight our waitress.  I believe that, once again, Bettina has melted another heart. 

Bettina, a woman who copes with a learning disability, autism, is very much her own person.   She sets her own standards and adheres to them without fail.  Bettina has her own code of conduct:  Being Bettina’s Dad: Bettina’s Code of Conduct – Leadership in the Raw

The courtesy of showing politeness in one’s attitude and behaviour towards others is paramount to Bettina.  She has observed her parents and big sister’s interactions with each other all her life therefore it has become the most natural thing in the world for her to follow. 

With these days of social media and text speak, it is not surprising that people omit important words such as “please and thank you”.  How often have you been in a queue at your favourite coffee shop when a person in front of you has said “can I get…” or “give me…”?  I must admit it rankles with both Joyce (my wife) and me when this happens.  I assume the barista is used to not receiving a common courtesy of please or thank you. 

Expressing thanks is a far from straightforward business. To be properly skilled at it, we need to learn the art of getting specific.

How Bettina’s shows courtesy towards others


  • Is specific about what she is saying please and thank you for. 
  • Gives eye contact so people can see she is being sincere. 
  • Smiles naturally when saying “thank you very much”
  • Shows gratitude which prompts a positive reaction from others.
  • ‘Verbal Nods’ with her reassuring noises

Five consequences of saying please and thank you.

  1. People feel valued and appreciated.  You only need to see the reaction when Bettina expresses these courtesies.
  2. Deepens a friendship and forms new ones. 
  3. Improves rapport – people are pleased to see you.  People light up when we go into a shop in Frinton especially if they have not seen her in a while. 
  4. “If I am nice to you, you will be nice to me”.   Reciprocal behaviour – a social norm of responding to a positive action with another positive action.  Rewarding kind actions  often starts a chain reaction.  If you are polite, the likelihood is those behind you and within earshot will also be polite.
  5. “It changes someone’s response and approach.  Start with a please, and you will likely receive cooperation and goodwill.  Finish with a thank you and it will confirm that cooperation and goodwill. .”  – Joyce Raw

A regular customer in ‘Pop-Pins has just mentioned how much she loves Bettina’s handbag, especially the accessories attached to her bag.  Bettina smiles and says, “thank you very much” and someone else’s day has just been made.

Bettina having the best time in Pop-Pins

A call to action.  Courtesy and manners are contagious, and it starts with you.  Like Bettina, let’s start spreading the contagion with a please, a thank you and a smile.