Why People Don't Say "You're Welcome" Anymore

Photo credit: Getty
Photo credit: Getty

From Town & Country

"Of course!" "No problem!" "Sure thing!"

We've all heard - and used - these phrases to respond to "thank you," but what ever happened to saying "you're welcome"?

In the past several decades, there seems to have been a decline in the use of the phrase in casual conversation. It would be easy to blame millennials for this linguistic phenomenon; after all, we've already accused them of killing off napkins, fabric softener, and bar soap. But etiquette experts believe that the reason for the shift isn't because of generational tendencies, lazy behavior, or even rudeness. The decline of saying "you're welcome" actually comes from something quite surprising: a desire to be more considerate.

"Unfortunately, certain behaviors are often considered to be over-the-top instead of accepted as proper manners," Maryanne Parker, founder of Manor of Manners and author of Posh Overnight: The 10 Pillars of Social Etiquette, tells CountryLiving.com. She explained that "you're welcome" - a phrase that is meant to be courteous - is sometimes perceived as insincere or snarky.

Photo credit: Getty
Photo credit: Getty

"Comedians were among the first to capitalize on the sarcastic potential of 'you’re welcome,' making it a punch line simply by removing the setup," wrote The New York Times’ Amanda Hess. Following that ironic take on the expression, a cultural shift has made it common to say "you're welcome" for no reason at all - signaling that no thanks are necessary because you're already aware of how great you are.

Still, Parker affirms that it's not what you say, but how you say it. The expression "you're welcome" may not be the problem, but it could be the delivery. A person's tone of voice and body language largely expresses their true feelings - and these nonverbal cues should be used in conjunction with speech to indicate when you really are happy to do something for someone else.

When the phrase is exclaimed in the absence of thanks, as comedians have made popular, it is obviously rude. When used graciously, "you're welcome" is a perfectly polite form of expression.

"'No worries, sure, of course, and no problem'" are acceptable in a more casual atmosphere and among close friends and family," Parker explains. "But I always prefer the traditional way of saying 'You are welcome.' The rest of the words sound too generic."

On the receiving end, Parker says we should not be sensitive when we express appreciation and the other party says "you're welcome." Accepting the phrase will help others feel more comfortable saying it - and prevent it from going extinct.

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