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August 21, 2008 | 20 Comments

Post to the Host:
I notice how frequently guests on news shows and other interviews reply with a "thank you" when they are thanked by the host/interviewer for their thoughts/report. I would have thought that it made the most sense to reply with a "you're welcome". What's your take?

Mark P.

Maybe so, but often the guest is flogging a book and the interview is free promotion and so some gratitude is in order. What irks me far more are the reporters whose names are given twice, at beginning and end, of their report, even if it's 30 seconds long. " with a report is Xavier Onassis in Atholl. Blah blah blah blah blah. This is Xavier Onassis reporting from Atholl." And then the anchor says, "Thank you, Xavier." Why do you thank someone who has simply done his job? Even the meteorologist gets thanked for reading the Weather Service forecast. It makes more sense to me to thank the cleaning ladies. They do important work and do it better than a lot of reporters do theirs.


I'ved discussed this topic with friends before and we have come to the following conclusion: Americans use "thank you" to end any kind of inpersonal exchange. When your server at a restuarant puts your plate down you say thank you as a shorthand for "that is all, you can leave now". And when a counter worker thanks you for giving them money for some toothpaste, that's his or her way of saying, "ok, you can go along now. Next!". I have traveled to places where they don't say thank you as much and I always fealt a little awkward at the end of any exchange, not knowing if we were done.
Patrick from NYC

Surprising. I would think GK would fall on the side of being overly polite. The waiter/waitress at a restaurant is "only doing his/her job". Why bother thanking them? The tip does that for you. Well, I think it might be more civilized to be kind. As for reporters, their identification may be more than vanity, i.e., a verification that they are an accredited professional reporting the news as opposed to someone calling a newsroom to shout "Baba booey!" Again, a professional courtesy for the viewer/listener.

Does one have to choose? "I'd really love to thank you for that report, Xavier, but, ooohh - the cleaning lady's due, and my supply is low...."?

It is polite, easy, and fast to thank everyone for everything they do if it is good. Much too much time is spent doing the opposite for the opposite.

Thank you for allowing me to post.


What's wrong with a little decorum? We'd be a better society if we all said "thank you" for no good reason now and again, especially to the cleaning ladies.

I think those "thank you" responses are easy transitions rather than well considered replies. I do hope that Xavier and his co-respondent pronounced Atholl slowly and precisely. If not the thanks will not be the focus of the reporting. Glad you get to enjoy some great New England weather on your Rhubarb Tour. jsb~~

This is the third or fourth time in the past several years that I've seen attention drawn to the "Thank you"/"You're welcome" exchange. There are several boilerplate responses to everyday situations that I find irksome (Have a nice day!), but I simply can't get worked up over this one.

We can argue over the niceties of appropriateness, but "Thank you," at the least, is a token of homage to the conclusion of a civil exchange. TV talk shows exhibit so little of it ("Shut up!" "Cut his mike!") that I thankfully welcome what little of it I come across.

I hadn't noticed name repeats, but these "thank yous" have often struck me as inappropriate and even offensive, especially when the report is something like: "...the victims' throats were slashed, leaving gallons of blood in the hot tub." Too often, on being thanked, the reporter replies, "thank YOU," or, much worse, "my pleasure," or something of equivalently poor taste. Whatever happened to the simple and polite, "you're welcome?" And have you noticed how often such gruesome reports are immediately followed by, "and stocks closed up 150 points, setting off celebrations on Wall Street," almost as if the profits were thanks to the slasher.

I think that the response, "my pleasure" is so NPR. Raaather British, don't you know! How about starting a Scandihoovian backlash, by saying "be so good" ?

Anytime I hear a "Thank You" or "Your Welcome" I am happy. It is when I hear "No Problem" as the response to my Thank You, I really get irked!

What irks me the most is when the reporter answers the question as part of the question. "How do feel about this.... are you upset or did you think this what would happen?" As a former News Director it irks me to know end to hear reporters who don't know how to ask a question.

That was more than a little grumpy. Was it something you had for breakfast? You are getting on in years, and as one who has gone through it--I'm 84--I want to caution you about letting it show. Younger folks are usually willing to cut us some slack, but nobody likes a sour puss. Just smile and give everybody the benefit of your experience. It works.

How about all the callers to radio talk shows who start out with "Thank you for taking my call"? In my opinion, a big waste of time and a big annoyance after 20 callers in an hour say the same thing. Why do they need to thank the host for just doing his/her job -- there wouldn't be a show if the calls weren't taken. You don't thank the cashier for taking the money from you at the cash register.

I'll echo Mark P.'s remark, and add:
it bugs me how most people can only say, verbosely,
"I WOULD LIKE TO thank ..."--in situations where the
intended thankees are present, and should be directly
thanked. I think that the simple act of thanking has
been lost.

And re those reporters reporting to the anchors, it always
angers me that the camera focuses on THEM, rather than
giving graphic complement to their audible verbal report!?
E.g., in the case of a hurricane, SHOW me the action
of the storm--not the face of the reporter (and choose your
reporter's based on their wit not their faces)!


As a cleaning lady, I would like to say thank you.

I am concerned by the seeming disappearance of the phrase,"You're welcome!" as the proper response to "Thank you!" When I say thank you, the other person almost invariably responds, "No problem." I then want to smack that person upside the head and say, "I didn't suppose it was a problem! I said 'Thank you!'"

Between that and people not knowing the difference between proper usage of "bring" and "take", it's almost enough to make me not want to leave the house.

Nontheless, Garrison, I WILL be leaving the house in October to go to West Texas so I can sit next to my big brother and watch him enjoying A Prairie Home Companion at Abilene Christian. Since you grew up in a religious tradition much like the Church of Christ, you should feel right at home! I was surprised to hear you wouldn't be performing at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Abilene. It's a lovely old jewel with castle towers on either side of the stage and twinkling stars in the ceiling.

I've seen you here in Salt Lake City twice, but won't be at the Rhubarb show at Red Butte. You'll have a great time. It's a very pleasant venue with birds and other little critters. Recently they even had deer (someone left the gate open, and Bambi and friends were munching on the prized foliage).

All the best,

Who says they don't thank the cleaning ladies?

Gratitude is perhaps the key virtue. If you don't have gratitude, you can't possibly have humility. If you aren't grateful, you won't be generous or charitable. Gratitude - even if it is conventional, scripted gratitude - makes for a more gracious world.

I doubt that most people even hear the name of the reporter giving ten seconds from Athens. I for one never pay the slightest attention to the name at the top or bottom of any newspaper or newsmagazine article. But people in the entertainment industry (i.e. the news media, especially TV news) think it's a huge deal to have their name out there on the air or in print, in a byline. It's the egoism of their particular industry. So they say their names for everyone else in the industry, and the rest of us can forget about it. Who cares? It's like the members of the film Academy not caring a fig about film that actually entertain anyone or appeal to any audience and giving awards to massage one another's egos. It's their thing - who cares? It's a different thing from denying people a polite 'thank you' to indicate that you have heard what they said.

Saying 'Thank you,' is good manners, no matter to whom you are saying it. And saying 'thank you' when you don't particularly think it is particularly deserved is a sign of particular graciousness: you appreciate someone's work, someone's human effort, even if you don't value what they do.

The people who teach our kids are 'just doing their jobs.' The surgeon who repairs your heart is 'just doing his job.' The cleaning woman is 'just doing her job.' We shouldn't thank them for 'just doing their jobs'? Apparently not, if we shouldn't thank a reporter for 'just doing his job.'

One of the nastiest people I ever knew was a supervisor who refused to compliment or approve anyone's work on the grounds that no matter how hard they worked or how good the quality of the work, they were 'just doing their jobs.' Everyone hated her; workers deliberately slowed down and dragged their feet on her shift to make her look bad. Why? Because we're human beings, not machines, and saying 'thank you' to a fellow human being is part of what makes society run smoothly.

Churlishly refusing a even the most rote 'thank you' to another human being is petty.

Wow! That Thank you - Thank you on the newscasts, even NPR, has bugged me for years. I thought I was the only one for whom this struck a conversational discord. Regardless of what they are pitching, tradition requires that "Thank you" be followed by "You're welcome." On NPR, less than one in ten exchanges are of the expected sort. Garrison's explanation has crossed my mind before, but I had a hard time believing that the correspondent in Beruit was so grateful for the air time that a "No, no, no, thank YOU" -type response was in order.

It still grates on my ears. I just think they do it because they are not really listening to the host, just respondng to an audio cue.

IMHO politeness has nothing to do with the "Thank you" thing...rather, it is a signal to the TV techs that both announcer & reporter are finished with that segment, ergo they'd better be ready to push the correct button for the next segment.

That said, "Thank you" as a transition phrase has overstayed its welcome and a new phrase needs choosing...something like, oh, I don't know..."23-skidoo" or "Al-righty, then" or "Wrap up your troubles in an old kit bag & smile, smile, smile." Like that. And enact a law that the phrase be changed every six months...announcers might quite appreciate the variety, too.

I wish more people would thank the service people.I've been a cleaner of everything from restrooms to truck stop showers to gas pumps. Rarely did i get a thanks just usually every one thinking they're of more importance than me. The term that most bugs me about today's soceity is "shut up".Why do people think this is an acceptable form of communication?We need many more thank you & you're welcome! Just having my say!

Free Promotion.

Dear Mr. K. The reason everyone, including weathermen, get their names mentioned three times is because everyone who puts his mug in front of a camera or behind a microphone these days has an agent and a contract. This practice is especially egregious among sportscasters, where they never fail to thank one another after segments, using each other's full names; as in, "Thank Garrison Keillor, for that insightful report." The purpose of this is to have one's name repeated frequently enough that every head hunter in the broadcast world knows them instantly, and becomes eager to lure them to more lucrative gigs. In other words, it's all about ego.

S. Hayes. And this is S. Hayes signing off. And thank you S. Hayes for this insightful comment. I can be reached at ....

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