On Saying You’re Welcome

vintage bentley

I’m a big believer in saying “You’re welcome.” I know that sounds a bit obvious. Of course anyone with a shred of decency and an ounce of home training knows to respond to thanks. I just mean I’m a fan of this specific response over others.

Mindlessly answering “No problem,” “No worries,” and, embarrassingly, “Yeah” when people tell me “Thank you” is a habit I’ve worked long and hard to break. These more flippant responses, whether purposefully flippant or not, were the result of feeling over thanked. An almost shy dismissal of the ways I was helping people out. Which is kind of weird, right? Helping people made me feel good. Doing a good job on something made me feel great. So why, when others acknowledged these things, was I brushing it off with “Oh don’t worry about it.”? Basically the equivalent of WHATEVER.

A couple years ago, in serious self-betterment mode, I made a New Year’s Resolution — Say You’re Welcome more! I flipped the tables and considered all the times I give thanks to and for others. How honest and humbled I feel in that split second of grateful recognition. How often it doesn’t feel like enough but I say it anyways because I hope small words will do the work of thousands. I figured if anyone was going out of their way to utter “Thank you,” I owed it to them to sincerely reply “You’re welcome!”

At the end of the day, we can never know the full story behind the words others choose to speak. Perhaps a “thank you” means…

Today was more than I could bear but you made it just a little bit easier.

Someone noticed.

I love you.

You’ve blown my mind/opened my eyes/made my life easier/made my hard work worth it.

And so “you’re welcome” can carry many meanings too.

I’m squeezing you tight.

You’re worth every good action and effort.

I’m the lucky one.

Thank YOU.

While I do slip up from time to time, I still try to hold by this practice of saying  “You’re welcome.” I would never want to imply, through a “no problem,” that a thanks was unnecessary or irrelevant. And I would ask that you consider your own response to expressions of thankfulness.

You may have unknowingly lifted the weight of a thousand elephants off of someone’s heart or handed them the whole world on a shiny silver tray. No problem? I don’t think so.

I’d rather not diminish feelings I could never even pretend to understand.

Even in return for the smallest of gestures.

(Photo above of a chauffeur helping a woman into a Bentley in 1926. I hope she thanked him for this small gesture and that he took her thanks in stride.)

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7 thoughts on “On Saying You’re Welcome

  1. I never thought about this before. I don’t use “you’re welcome” that much, but it’s not because I’m trying to say “whatever”. I like to reply with “of course!” or “my pleasure!” It’s a way of saying I’m happy to have done whatever they are thankful 🙂

  2. I’ve always been bothered by the “no problem” response. It feels disingenuous, like the responder couldn’t care less about you. A simple, “you’re welcome” speaks volumes to me! Thanks for this post!

  3. I totally agree with you Beth! People also use “welcome” a lot and I don’t enjoy receiving that message, its a response that sounds more like a chore rather than when people say “you’re welcome” it is more personal and sounds genuine.

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