Is saying Thank You outdated?

I posted this question on Facebook and received a number of passionate replies.

“Is saying “Thank you” dated? Helped a university fresh grad on something very important to her, and the word “thanks” had not been uttered or written. Funny, because in my experience, everyone from Toddlers to Seniors still say Thank You. Eye-opening really.”

Obviously, it was all tongue-in-cheek, as I neither found it “funny” nor truly “eye-opening”. Simply put, a case of rudeness of an individual. Good manners should never be out of fashion!

A number of replies surprised me, pointing to the possible traits of the younger generation, specifically GenY. (Note: comments made by people from 20s to 40s). While I do interact frequently professionally with people from that age group, I don’t have that general impression – or maybe I simply attract/am attracted to those who know their manners?  Broad-stroke statements are dangerous and often unfair, and I am not going to make any judgement here, but I do want to share some of the replies with you.

 It does seem to be abit outdated. People expect things these days. My kids write thank you letters after bdays and xmas and seem to be out of the ordinary. It’s something I did and really fee strongly its good manners xx

This is one of my huge pet peeves. I love helping people and I don’t expect much for it, but when I don’t even get a thank you it makes me crazy.

I think appreciation is absolutely essential when someone helps you out. It is beyond courtesy, and in my book, to be extended to everyone who deserves it, including your own family.At the same time, I don’t want to vilify all Gen Ys because I mentored a young (to be) graduate on the phone and connected her to several others in her field, and received a (surprise) thank you letter in the mail. So courtesy is not completely dead.

I find, it depends on the generation. Some people in a few certain generations do not seem to be familiar with the words Thank you. I know. It’s quite sad. Yes, we should not expect it, however, saying “thank you” should almost be like a default human to human code. Right? (To which someone else commented – I don’t think it’s generational at all. Some people get it. Some don’t.)

People don’t say sorry these days either!

 I am not surprised.

People here in <country> don’t say please or thank you either and it really irritates me….so rude!

This sort of thing really annoys me. I’m a stickler for manners and probably use thank you and please more than I need to! I’m old fashioned though, I like sending thank you cards!


What do you think about these opinions? Do you have anything to add?

Regardless of the Why’s, there is zero reason for not showing your gratitude. I am not talking about huge gestures (a bunch of flowers can be an overkill in some situations!). Often a simple “tks!” would suffice. There are so many ways to say thanks, it is hardly an effort. Do it in real life, do it virtually, make it funny, memorable, or serious…whatever you do, it is your voice, it is about you appreciating someone.

While the business world can be an arena, you will find that there are lots of people who are willing to help without expecting anything in return. You will find yourself in the position to offer help OR receive help time over time throughout your career life.

Saying Thank You is and will never been an obsolete gesture, whoever you are, wherever you are.


4 thoughts on “Is saying Thank You outdated?”

  1. Definitely and categorically “no”. “Please”, “thank you”, “sorry”… are still very much in day-to-day communication. Here in London I say “thank you” to bus drivers when I alight the buses, and I also hear other people do the same. We (people in general) say “thank you” to waiters and all people who help us either by profession or by kindness. So I guess it is down to individual and / or upbringing. Having said that, I did have an amusing experience in New York: at breakfast in a diner, I picked the fullest set on offer, and with each item there were several options, so there was some sort of conversation between the waiter and me. When I had just made my choice of the 4th item (out of 6) the waiter stopped and asked, “Are you guys from England?” with my positive reply he said, “I knew it, because you keep saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ with every sentence.” And all the time I had thought that American people were much better-mannered than we Brits!

  2. Deborah – I had the same experience …forgot which country I was in, but the use of “Thank You” definitely is a bit different in different cultures. Like all communications, it is important to consider the context. The only rule – show gratitude, however you do it.

  3. Good post. I do think young people (meaning from teenagers to twenty somethings) do have a sense of entitlement….. Like for instance my sister-in-law’s kids never say thank you to anything that family members have done for them. They just expect to be “served” and “helped”. They don’t say hi and greet people either. That drives me crazy. I always have to speak up and them that “hey, don’t you have to say ‘hi/thank you’?” My SIL is educated but she doesn’t seem to have any clues on teaching good old fashioned manners. She is not a rude person herself — just reserved and quiet.

    It just seems to have to be a sign of our times… Maybe young people have a sense or entitlement and expect things to fall easily on their laps.

    On the contrary, the foreign grad students in my school are extremely polite, respectful, and graceful. I wonder if it is a cultural phenomenon that’s unique in western culture?

  4. Soohoocity – I have read a lot about this sense of entitlement of GenY. Personally it is not something that stands out in my interactions with the younger generation. However, some authorities in the areas of organization behaviours, workplace training, HR, etc. do express similar conclusions.

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