I’ve started using “my pleasure” in everyday conversation.
Like most children around the world, I was trained that when somebody thanks you for something, you respond with “you’re welcome.”
When I was stationed in Germany, I learned that if somebody did something for me, I should say “Danke” to them. If I did something for somebody else and they said “Danke” to me, then I should say “Bitte” to them.
Or if one of us were feeling verbose and said “Danke Schon!” then the other should respond with “Bitte Schon!”
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This has a nice ring to it, as if somebody’s singing to you and you’re singing back to them.
Then I returned to America and started saying “thank you” and “you’re welcome” again. Saying “thank you” still felt good – though not nearly as musical as its German counterpart – because, let’s face it, it’s a powerful sentiment and not enough people say it when they should.
But saying “you’re welcome” started feeling flat, like something I’d learned to say as a rote response to something somebody else said. What did it really mean anyway?
This line of thinking is nothing new. In a 2013 essay for Huffington Post, Adam Grant also questioned using “you’re welcome” as an automatic response.
He quotes Robert Cialdini, a scholar of persuasion and the author of a book called “Influence,” who believes that saying “you’re welcome” misses an opportunity.
“There is a moment of power that we are all afforded as soon as someone has said ‘thank you,’” Cialdini writes. Instead of wasting this power by saying “you’re welcome,” Cialdini recommends this response: “I know you’d do the same for me.”
Grant liked the idea and tried it, but stopped.
“…When I chose to help people, I wanted to do it without strings attached,” he wrote. “I didn’t want to leave them feeling like they owed me. So I stuck with the familiar, banal ‘you’re welcome,’ which was mildly dissatisfying. Why do we utter this strange phrase?”
Eventually, he found the right phrase for him: “I know you’ll do the same for someone else.”
It’s a nice sentiment, and I’m glad it works for him.
Something different works for me: “My pleasure.”
Lately I’ve been saying it a lot without even thinking about it, or where it comes from.
Of course, you know where it comes from.
The other day I was eating at Chick-fil-A, and I looked for some hot sauce in the nearest condiment distribution center and couldn’t find any. When the friendly young employee brought out my food, I asked her for some hot sauce.
“Certainly!” she said, and she practically sprinted to another condiment distribution center on the other side of the store and then sprinted back with half a dozen packets of Texas Pete.
“Thank you,” I said.
“My pleasure!” she said. And yes, it had an exclamation point at the end of it.
That’s when I realized that I’ve been saying it too.
Sometimes I mean it – I say it with an exclamation point at the end of it.
But often I veer into sarcasm and say it like a teenaged Chick-fil-A employee who attended training on the day everybody learned to say “my pleasure,” but skipped the day when everybody learned to say it like you mean it.
So I vow to only say “my pleasure” with an exclamation point at the end of it.
You can go ahead and thank me now.
So I can go ahead and say, “My pleasure.”
Sorry. I mean, “My pleasure!”