When, somebody says “Thank you” to me, it usually prompts me to say – since I was raised to be a polite little boy who still tries to remember that from time to time – “You’re welcome.”
And that is that. Book closed. Thanks and you’re welcome are usually enough. It’s enough for passing a salt shaker at the dinner table, for holding an elevator door for a last-second arriver, or for handing exact change to an already-too-busy check-out clerk.
A little “Thanks” and a casual “You’re welcome” just help grease to wheels of everyday life.
But those little things I say so automatically sometimes bother me. For instance, “How do you do?” is a kind of “Hello,” but am I really asking for somebody’s whole list of today’s aches and pains? “Hello” works better.
So I decided to do a little research. In Spanish and French their “You’re welcome” words translate to something more like, “the pleasure is mine,” “it was nothing” and “no problem”.
Nice change-ups, but still not quite what I was looking for. Then I came across a book called Influence by Arizona State Professor, Robert Cialdini, NY Times best-selling author with books in 30 languages, who thinks saying “you’re welcome” is a missed opportunity. He says I get a moment of power when someone says ‘thank you.’” He recommends:
“I know you’d do the same for me.”
Social scientists Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, professors at Harvard and Yale, did experiments showing that acts of kindness are contagious. They can spread three times from person to person to person.” A simple kind word, a kindness you do to someone, may spread far, repeated from person to person, all the way to somebody you may never know.
So, next time someone says “Thanks” to you, why not stretch your answer even a little farther beyond politeness. Ask them to pay it forward.
Instead of “You’re welcome,” say, “I know you’ll do the same for someone else.”
Which all brings me to my point for this week’s edition of the Jamestown Gazette: What About Thanksgiving?
Traditionally, Thanksgiving was invented by the Plymouth Colonists in 1621 in thanks to God and the Native Americans for a good harvest. And today, many still thank God on Thanksgiving Day. It is deeply ingrained in the DNA of our oldest traditions and our national identity.
And for those more comfortable thanking our founding fathers, our families and our most faithful friends, Thanksgiving remains among our highest holidays as a country in which we all share blessings.
So, I wondered if there was a “You are welcome” we could expect to hear in response to our “Thank you?”
Regardless of whom you and I thank, I think the answer clearly is, “I know you’ll do the same for someone else.”
“ …So What Comes Next?” “Pay it forward.” Do it in any way you can as often as you can. It’s the best “You are welcome” I can imagine.
Enjoy what you’ve been given, be thankful, and pass it on. And of course, enjoy the read.