No Problem.

Just this week during a visit with my father, I happened to catch the end of Wheel of Fortune. On a couple of occasions, I’ve seen Pat Sajak, the emcee, bring up an etiquette issue. Thank you, Pat

This time he let loose with an etiquette pet peeve that struck home with me. He asked, rhetorically, what the deal is with people who respond to a sincere thank you by saying “No problem.”

I couldn’t agree with him more. A thank you is an expression of appreciation one person offers another. To respond “No problem” is to shrug off this acknowledgment as really being undeserved and not meriting a thank you. It’s like saying, “It was nothing” or “Forget it.” I think that whatever prompted the “Thank you” was more than nothing and deserves a more positive response than “No problem.” Here’s why: Too often we ignore or dismiss a “Thank you.” Saying “No problem” is one of the most common ways it’s done. Nobody likes to be dismissed.

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All of this brings me to the real point here. I’ve written about the importance of saying “Thank you” and writing thank you notes in previous columns. As important as it is for one person to say “Thank you” to another, it is equally important for the person being thanked to acknowledge the “Thank you” sincerely. And the friendliest, nicest, most sincere response is “You’re welcome.”

By saying “You’re welcome,” a person shows she has heard the “Thank you” and appreciates the recognition given by the person saying it.

One of my own pet peeves in this arena is people who respond to a “Thank you” by saying “No, thank you” with the emphasis on “you.”

Huh? What did I do to deserve your thanks? When I hear this response to a “Thank you,” I wonder if the person is trying to trump my thank you with theirs.

If you want to return the “Thank you,” there’s an easy way to do this. First acknowledge that you’ve heard it and appreciate it by saying “You’re welcome.” Then, having done that, you can say, “And thank you, too. I really appreciate …” By first acknowledging the other person’s thanks, you are taking a moment to focus on what they have said and showing them that you appreciate their gesture. You are showing them a measure of respect. Then you can offer them your thanks as well, and it, too, becomes a sincere demonstration of your appreciation of them.

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