Dear Miss Manners: Long ago, I was trained that when someone says "thank you," you say "you're welcome" (unless, of course, they aren't). This has always worked well for me in person and on the telephone.
I have recently noticed (yes, I'm slow, always was) that no one else does this. So now I wonder if modern etiquette means that not only is my response superfluous, but even perhaps annoying. After all, the only thing to do with an email like that is to delete it.
Not that I've received any complaints, but should I stop doing this?
Far be it from Miss Manners to discourage conventional courtesies, even superfluous ones. But that is what she is about to do.
Written thanks do not require that acknowledgment. A letter of thanks needs no response unless it is accompanied by a present. (Then it still doesn’t require “you’re welcome,” but does require another letter of thanks for the present — which the recipient needn’t answer, so that is the end of the chain. Whew.)
Anyway, people’s inboxes are choked with emails, so it would be a good idea to drop this well-meaning but unnecessary addition.
Dear Miss Manners: Frequently nowadays, people answer their cellular phones, an entirely voluntary action, by stating, "This is X. What is it? I am busy," or "I can't talk now. What's up?" Today, someone said, "I am standing in my linen closet folding sheets. I don't have time to talk. What is it?"
Can you recommend either 1. a soothing or satisfying internal thought for the caller, who is thinking, "But I did not force you to answer; why must you be so rude?" or 2. an appropriate reply?
For the second, Miss Manners suggests, “Oh, sorry, never mind. Goodbye.” This should leave the rude person forever wondering what was up — which, in turn, should provide the satisfaction requested in the first.
Dear Miss Manners: I volunteer at two local nonprofits, writing thank-you notes to donors who contribute to the cause. Overhead is always a concern, especially during these times.
At what dollar value do you send out a thank-you? It costs us about $1.50 to send each one (postage + preprinted card).
Then find a cheaper way of thanking people. As you have to acknowledge contributions for tax purposes anyway, surely a note could be slipped in with that.
Miss Manners has always disliked the public ranking of donors, apparently intended to embarrass the smaller ones into buying their way into a higher category. She believes all philanthropists deserve thanks and presumes that they are giving what they can.
Ignoring them is also shortsighted: Rich donors may not have always been rich.
New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.
2021, by Judith Martin