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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

How to Respond to a Preemptive ‘You’re Welcome!’

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a 16-year-old girl who was taught to be polite and to say “please” and “thank you.” I try to be grateful and thank the people around me, even for little things like answering a simple question or handing me something.

What bothers me is when people immediately say “you’re welcome” before I have a chance to thank them. It comes across to me as if they are assuming that what they’ve done deserves to be thanked, and it feels as if it takes the courtesy away when I respond with “thank you.” Am I the only one who finds this rude? How can I respond to this?

GENTLE READER: Acknowledging thanks that have not been expressed is more than an assumption: It is often a thinly veiled criticism. But as you did not yet thank the person, now is not the time to start a fight.

Miss Manners suggests leaning in with an enthusiastic, “I was going to say: Thank you so, so much!” The implicit counter-criticism will be all the more clear if your emphatic gratitude is out of proportion to the action being acknowledged.