When to Say “You’re Welcome”


I’ve often noticed a very interesting thing take place when someone receives a compliment.  Most people will usually respond by saying “thank you”.  But there was a time not so long ago when the common response would have been “you’re welcome.”  And I often suggest to people that we return to that response.

Now I’ve heard some people say that it sounds a bit egotistic to respond to a compliment with “you’re welcome,” but when you really take the time to look at it, saying “thank you” is actually the more egotistical response.

When someone pays you a compliment they are essentially saying that they enjoy whatever it is about you that they are commenting on.  They are expressing to you their gratitude.  So essentially, they are thanking you for the opportunity to enjoy that aspect.  And when someone is thanking you the proper response is to say “you’re welcome.”  To say “thank you” in response to someone thanking you just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

To give an example, a person may say, “I really enjoyed your performance this evening.”  You might reply by saying, “You’re welcome (to enjoy).”  By saying, “you’re welcome” you are acknowledging their expression of gratitude and offering in return your consent for their enjoyment.  However, when you return a compliment with “thank you”, you are essentially offering them your gratitude for having boosted your ego.

When someone pays you a compliment and you reply with “thank you,” you are ignoring their expression of gratitude and only acknowledging that aspect of yourself which they are commenting on.  The ego feeds on compliments, and this is why we are compelled to thank someone when they pay homage to our ego.  When you say “you’re welcome,” you aren’t necessarily acknowledging that aspect of yourself.  The focus, rather, is upon the other person’s expression of appreciation and gratitude.  You are therefore acknowledging the other person rather than yourself.  In understanding this, you can see how saying “you’re welcome” is much less ego-involved.

So, the next time someone pays you a compliment, shift your response from “thank you” to “you’re welcome.”  It will likely confuse some people at first, since we are so accustom to hearing “thank you,” so you might have to do some explaining.  But with a little understanding, people will appreciate your acknowledgement of their gratitude.

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