A gold star spins across the screen, and magical sounds play from the speakers of the online English learning platform.
“Thank you, teacher!” says the 4-year old student in Beijing.
“You’re welcome!” I state, modeling the correct response to the phrase ‘thank you’ for my student.
But why do I avoid using those words in my daily life? I replace them with, “anytime, of course, no problem, sure thing, yep!” But what message does that send?
Their appreciation makes me so uncomfortable I’m not able to acknowledge it.
Saying You’re Welcome Verbally
There are some situations where I find it’s easy to say, “you’re welcome” verbally, especially when I know the person and I can control my tone. When grandma thanks me for picking up some things she needed from the store, I can comfortably tell her, “You’re welcome. I’m happy to help you out at any time.”
I wouldn’t tell her, “no problem” because I don’t want her to think of asking me for any help as a problem. I’m afraid it would come out as, “It was no problem this time.” And I don’t want to use the phrase, “no worries” as she would hear that as a cue to start worrying about something.
When she thanks me, I know its genuine as I often do go out of my way to help her. Would it be so terrible if I felt I deserved her gratitude?
I often don’t feel deserving of appreciation.
Acknowledging The Gratitude of Strangers
But what about when I am dealing with a stranger? I frequently hold the door open for people, sometimes going out of my way if they have a stroller, or look like they could use a hand. When people do thank me, I have nothing to say. Usually, I mumble something like, “yeah,” or “sure,” or even worse; I fail to acknowledge their gratitude and tell them, “have a great day.”
Being able to help someone with a small gesture brightens my day. But their appreciation makes me so uncomfortable I’m not ready to acknowledge it.