I recently came across an opinion piece in the Hamilton Spectator by Sue Boychuk titled, “When did ‘no problem’ become a replacement for ‘you’re welcome.’”

As an individual who has a lot of opinions, I decided to read the article. To my intrigue, I discovered that Sue Boychuk felt quite passionately about how people respond to her thanks. She believes that people shouldn’t use “no problem” or “no worries” in day-to-day interactions because “There was NO problem and I had no worries; I ordered a drink in a restaurant. Is it not part of the routine to bring it to me?”

After doing some research, I discovered that this discussion surrounding how you should respond to people thanking you has existed for quite some time. A lot of people have interesting opinions on it. Not wanting to get sucked into the underworld that is the debate of “no problem” or “you’re welcome”—and because it seemed so hilarious—I wanted to write this letter to touch upon a greater point of contention that Boychuk brings up.

It appears that these day-to-day interactions that you have with employees at a coffee shop, or the receptionist behind the desk, or even your friends have become routine. I am guilty of this myself. The number of times I’ve responded with “you too” to the clerk who told me to “enjoy my movie” will testify to the fact that I’ve become conditioned to appear polite.

What it means to be polite is defined differently across generational and cultural lines, but I find that irrespective of what you’re expected to do—I would hope that people are being genuine. The difficulty of course is that when we have a habit of something, when it becomes routine, those actions or sayings lose the significance that they once held.

Importantly, only you can ensure that the things you do or the actions you say have meaning. Breaking away from routine and doing something not just because you’re expected to do it, will provide additional meaning and value to whatever it is that you do.

So, the next time someone hands me my coffee, I’ll try and remember to be truly thankful for it if I say “thank you”—I would recommend Boychuk do the same.

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