What Comes After Thank You?

Who remembers when the standard reply to “Thank you” was “You’re welcome?” These phrases were inseparable, right?  Now, instead of “You’re welcome” I hear “No problem.” The fact that this expression has taken our culture by storm has concerned me for some time. Here’s my case:

Several years ago I was in a restaurant with my friend, Grace. We were having a good time when, for no apparent reason, I became irritated.

“I’m aggravated.” I whispered. “I can’t put my finger on it, but something’s not right.”

Grace laughed and said, “You’re not having one of your mini meltdowns, are you?”

Just then the perky waitress returned with our iced tea. “Thank you,” I said with a smile.

She replied, “No problem,” and skipped back to the kitchen. I still hadn’t figured out what the source of my upset was when she returned with our eggs.

Again I said, “Thank you,” and smiled.

“No problem,” she chirped. She was very friendly, but had obviously gotten sold on that phrase. That’s it! I thought. It bugs me–that ‘no problem’ response. Okay. What’s the big deal—You’re welcome vs. No problem? Well, I’m glad you asked.

“Thank you” is a show of gratitude for service rendered. “You’re welcome” is the reply that focuses the attention back onto the one who’s grateful, which in this case is the customer. It’s a pleasant exchange. In addition, the phrase “You’re welcome” begins with “You” which, once again, emphasizes the grateful person.

On the other hand, when “No problem” is the response to “Thank you,” who’s that about? Not the customer. This phrase sounds like the server’s saying, “Oh, I didn’t have to go to any extra trouble to do this for you.” These are words that highlight the server. There is no acknowledgement of the customer’s gratitude, just that it was “no problem” for the server. Where’s the courteousness in that? Then, there’s the fact that “No problem” starts with “no.” Isn’t beginning a polite exchange with a negative word sort of like shooting yourself in the (good communication) foot?

Am I being petty? I don’t think so. I’m just a woman who longs to hear those simple words, “You’re welcome.” Why? Because, being thankful is a great way to live a more joyful life. Gratitude is not a sometimes gesture to be taken lightly or for granted. It is vital to our existence!

Let’s not allow saying “You’re welcome” to slide into oblivion. Say it every time someone thanks you for anything. So, let’s try it. I say, “Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.”  And you say, what? “You’re welcome!” See? That was easy!

I rest my case.

Thank You

2 thoughts on “What Comes After Thank You?

  1. Oh my goodness! That happened to me yesterday. We were eating at a Cracker Barrel and the waitress said “no problem” so many times I asked William if he could remember how many times she said it! It was irritating. I’m sure she thought she was being polite but many times we don’t think about the words we use and how they affect others.


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