Today’s post is a day late (Did you know I try and post on Tuesdays? Because I do. Try.) and it’s recycled, but it’s been rolling around in my head again recently and I thought it would fit in here. So, without further ado, here is a repost of an old blog entry from 2011 on a long-abandoned blog of mine. You can thank me later. (I’ll try and respond appropriately.)
(written March 18, 2011)
I’m on a few committees for different organizations and events, and I went to one of them earlier this week. We were meeting to discuss where our little committee was going to put its efforts next and brainstorming ideas. We had a new guy show up (and participate!) for the first time, and after the meeting was over I thanked him for coming and he responded, “You’re welcome.”
His response surprised me. Not because it was in any way wrong. In fact, it’s exactly what my mom taught me to say (and I think she’s right). When someone thanks you, you say, “You’re welcome,” because the person was indeed welcome to your help/time/etc. It surprised me because it’s a phrase I’ve heard and said(!) with less and less frequency over the years, and I’d been thinking about its disappearance for a while.
Instead of letting the person thanking me for whatever it is I did for them know they were welcome to my help, I shrug it off. “No problem.” It’s fine I did something nice for you, because it wasn’t a big deal anyway. It sort of implies that it’s not special to me to help you. Or that I only do it because it’s easy. Or, conversely, that it doesn’t even matter (to me) that I helped, because my time/effort has no value (in my eyes).
The other response to “Thank You” I hear/say is… “No, thank you!” This one is sort of ridiculous, like falling over ourselves to prove who is more grateful. This is the opposite of “No problem.” It implies I’ve just been waiting for the opportunity to do something nice for someone else and you finally gave me the chance to put the gold star on my chart for the day. Yay, me!
I think “You’re welcome” should make a come back. I’d rather my friends and colleagues know they were welcome to my help, and that’s that. No discounting myself and no puffing myself up. It seems like the best choice.