Advice Columns

Miss Manners: One thank-you is often enough

Q: My career has taken me to a point that I am occasionally interviewed on local radio and television.

As a child, I was taught that when someone says “Thank you,” I should respond with “You’re welcome.” However, in interviews I hear, the interviewer always ends with “Thank you,” and the interviewee always responds with “Thank you.”

I would like to be myself and say “You’re welcome,” unless you can offer a compelling insight into why “Thank you” is the proper response.

A: “You are welcome” is generally the proper response. “Thank you” back is not impolite, but also not necessary.

In this case, it stems, Miss Manners surmises, from a modest need to deflect attention from being appreciated. A compromise response in such circumstances is “Thank you for having me here.”

Q: Before my wedding last year, a colleague sent out an email encouraging staff contributions for a wedding gift to me at a local spa. Many contributed and some didn’t.

My wedding came and went, and the colleague who was responsible for the gift never delivered it. She kept the funds for herself.

Many asked if I enjoyed my experience, and I admitted I had never received the gift and not gone to the spa. Several even shared with me that they did, in fact, contribute.

I am obligated by management to work directly with this person and have ignored the issue for some time, not wanting to seem spiteful or bitter, but I have a sincere issue with this being kept a secret, as it is one of the reasons I have a hard time trusting this individual.

I have shared this with my direct office supervisor (who is not her direct supervisor), but nothing has been done. I am now working toward a promotion and want to do the right thing. Is there anything that can be done to courteously handle this situation? Was it appropriate for me to share that the gift was never delivered?

A: As always, it depends on the delivery (of the news, not of the present — you seem to have missed out on that).

If you share the information in an accusatory way, superiors will probably not want to get involved in a social transaction executed in a professional setting. Miss Manners would advise you to approach your colleague directly — and in a panic, if you can muster it — saying: “I am so horribly embarrassed. It has come to my attention that the staff contributed to a spa gift for my wedding, but I never received it. I am terribly remiss in writing thank-you notes, but I don’t know to whom I should send them. Do you know anything about this?”

Either your colleague will cop to it and know that you are on to her, or she will claim innocence. If the latter, continue by saying: “Oh dear. I hate to think that the rest of the staff is making this up. Would you help me broach the subject with them since they claim you were the collector?”

Miss Manners hopes that this will call her bluff and let her know that you will notice any future botched deliveries.

Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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