First of all, I’m back home! Ish. I’m still across the state staying with my grandparents, but I’ll be home soon.
Anyhow, today’s (late) post is about the weird differences between generations.
Specifically, “you’re welcome” versus “no problem”.
Now, up until a few nights ago, I thought that the problem with “no problem” was a myth. I’d never actually seen anyone miffed to have received those words in return for a “thank you.” Saying “no problem” is certainly second nature to me, and I thought nothing of it.
Then, at dinner several nights ago, my grandparents got talking about how it bothered them and that proper etiquette is dying out, and the proper response is “you’re welcome” when somebody says “thank you”.
This made me feel a little self-conscious. Of course, I say “you’re welcome”, too–it’s a coin-toss as to which of the two phrases I’ll say when met with a “thank you,” but up to this point, I’d never thought there was anything wrong with either response.
I just think it’s a breakdown in communication, because I was thinking about it, and when someone says “no problem,” they mean the exact same thing as “you’re welcome.”
Think about it: you do someone a favor. They say, “thank you.” For the favor. You say, “you’re welcome.” You’re welcome to my favor-giving abilities.
Alternatively, you do someone a favor. They say, “thank you.” For the favor. You say, “no problem.” Doing you this favor was no problem, happy to lend you my favor-giving abilities.
Both are making it clear that you are happy to do this person the favor.
I think a lot of it stems from this apparent cultural anxiety of being burdensome. Maybe it’s not cultural, but I know that I certainly feel it. I get disproportionately anxious when I need to ask for a favor, and no matter how much I am reassured to the contrary, I always, always feel like a burden.
Granted, I’m also just an anxious person, but this seems pretty common.
So I feel like “no problem” in place of “you’re welcome” has kind of evolved as a way to reassure the person receiving the favor that there’s no hidden hard feelings, no burden that you’re pretending never happened–it really was their pleasure to do something for you.
And I really don’t think that’s an unacceptable response.
Sure, it’s not “proper etiquette.” But etiquette and its propriety change all the time, just like all customs, slang, and vocabulary. It’s okay. It just all comes down to being loving and accepting, in the end, like most issues do–even the little tiny ones.
PS — the quotation marks are strong in this post. I’m proof-reading right now and there are a heckuvalot of quotation marks. Oh, well.