Whether it’s thanking someone for doing something nice or appreciating life in general, we all know the power of verbalizing our gratitude. In fact, some countries even have holidays centered around that concept. But with all that emphasis on being thankful, we often forget the other side of that coin — how to respond to “thank you”.
If you’re struggling to accept someone’s gratitude toward you, it’s time to learn how to do so gracefully. Of course, your response will ultimately depend on the situation and the person you’re talking to. With that in mind, let’s start with friends and family.
How to Respond to “Thank You” From a Family Member/Friend
First, let’s get the easy ones out of the way. What do you do if someone close to you gives you a genuine thanks? Well, depending on your relationship with the person, there are several ways to take it. Still, you can pretty much always go for a classic:
• You’re welcome.
• Happy to help.
• No problem.
• No worries.
• Sure thing.
• Don’t mention it.
• Think nothing of it.
• Not at all.
That last example is especially appropriate when someone is excessively grateful. For instance, if they say they couldn’t have done something without you. If that statement is false, “not at all” will minimize your role in the matter without diminishing the person’s gratitude.
In certain situations, you could also respond to a “thank you” by saying:
• I hope it helps.
• Pleased to hear you liked it.
• I thought you’d like it.
• I hope you enjoy it.
Those sentences would work if you provided valuable information or handed someone a present. The gift wouldn’t even have to be a physical item. The other person might thank you for recommending a show, and you could say any of those last three phrases.
As an aside, some people would advise you to avoid saying things that might diminish the sentiment you’re receiving. For example, don’t say “it’s nothing” when someone is thanking you. Aside from minimizing your efforts, that could also signal to the other person that whatever they’re thankful for isn’t important.
Let’s say someone thanked you for getting medicine for their sick relative. Saying “it’s nothing” may lead them to think that you did such a thing accidentally or even reluctantly. It might sound like you don’t actually care about the relative’s condition and that you only helped out begrudgingly.
How to Respond to “Thank You” at Work
Handling work-related gratitude will depend on company culture as well as the relationship you have with the person who’s thanking you. If it’s just a break room pal thanking you for handing them a snack, something as casual as “sure thing” would do the trick. You could also say:
• You got it.
• No biggie.
• No sweat.
But whatever you do, don’t use those examples on people who are responsible for doling out projects. Similarly, you also shouldn’t respond to your boss with an “it’s nothing” or “it was no trouble at all.”
As we have established, those phrases can undermine the effort you’ve put into the action you’re being praised for. Even if someone thanks you for performing a simple task, don’t diminish its value with thoughtless words. Before you know it, you would be the person everyone turns to for those simple tasks. Those things can really pile up!
So what do you say if your manager or boss thanks you for doing a good job? Well, first and foremost, a simple “you’re welcome” or even “you’re very welcome” would be appropriate in most circumstances. But if you’d like to use more dignified or solemn language, try:
• Happy to be of service.
• I’m glad to have been able to help/assist you.
• I’m happy to do my part.
• Thank you for entrusting me with this task.
• It was an honor.
• It was my pleasure (or just say “my pleasure”).
• Thank you for the opportunity.
These examples would also work if you’re replying to a client or customer. If you work in retail, your manager might give you a pass for talking to them more casually. But they probably wouldn’t be as happy if you omitted those formal responses when talking to customers.
How to Respond to “Thank You” Emails
Responding to “thank you” emails can be pretty complicated. After all, it’s more difficult to read between the lines when you’re looking at an actual text. So figuring out what kind of response you should give can be somewhat tricky. Still, there are some universally accepted replies you can send to “thank you” emails.
Once again, “you’re welcome” is a pretty standard response that shouldn’t raise any brows. However, you can also say:
• My pleasure.
• It was the least I could do.
• That’s all right.
• Happy to help.
• Don’t mention it.
If you’re feeling generous, you can also include a phrase indicating your willingness to help in the future. For example, you could tell the person to feel free to reach out if they ever need something again. With that kind of response, you could also clarify where you can be reached.
Let’s say you’re quitting your job and someone uses your company email address to bid you goodbye. They might also use the opportunity to thank you for helping them out while you worked at the company. In that case, you could respond to the thanks as we have discussed, then throw in another email address they’ll be able to reach you at.
Funny Ways to Respond to “Thank You”
Last but not least, you could have a little fun with it — if the occasion allows it. If someone thanks you sarcastically, you could play along with the following retorts:
• Anything for you (but in a mockingly sweet tone).
• Pas de problème (because butchering the French language is always funny).
• De nada (bonus points for committing to a Spanish accent).
• No problemo (when you give up on trying foreign language phrases).
• Forget about it (the mafia-style phrase may not have been intended for this use but it’s close enough to “forget it” to pull off in this context).
On the other hand, if you’re looking to diffuse someone’s uncomfortably sentimental expression of gratitude, you could try saying:
• You got it boss (or “hoss” if they won’t mind being compared to a horse).
• Anytime — just not any time soon (or “just don’t ask too often”).
With that last example, you can say that you’re happy to have helped while jokingly expressing your reluctance to do so in the future. That should get everyone back to a more jovial mood after a tender moment.
But remember, you shouldn’t shy away from accepting gratitude too often. So only use joking responses when the situation really calls for them.