A growing trend is emerging among the younger generations in the United States, encompassing Gen Z and Millennials. They are increasingly moving away from the conventional “You’re welcome” in response to expressions of gratitude. While older generations might perceive this shift as a decline in etiquette, many young individuals consider responses like “OK” or “Mm-hmm” more polite than the traditional reply.
This change suggests that the younger generations are more considerate than their predecessors. In simple terms, it indicates that older individuals view assistance as a gift given voluntarily, whereas younger ones see it as an expected gesture.
This shift in etiquette has sparked debates within the United States and prompted discussions abroad. Notably, there has been a lively conversation on TikTok, with non-Americans, particularly those in Europe, perceiving the change as impolite.
@clockforaheart #stitch with @Georgia ♬ original sound – Gryffinpuff
Earlier this year, Australian YouTuber and content creator Georgia McCudden shared a video (which has since been removed) recounting an encounter with a server during her visit to the U.S. In the clip, McCudden mentioned that she thanked a restaurant employee for passing her ketchup, and the server responded with a casual “Mmhmm.” She was taken aback by this response, stating, “I was like, ‘I beg your pardon,’… I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that was a big request.”
An American commenter reassured McCudden that the server wasn’t being impolite; it was simply a cultural misunderstanding.
A TikTok user named Arjuna joined the conversation with a post explaining the “You’re welcome” phenomenon in America, and it garnered nearly a million views. He captioned the clip: “I promise you, Americans are actually very polite!!!”
Arjuna addressed the notion behind this change in American etiquette. “Let’s say I’m a cashier at a fast-food restaurant, and I hand someone their food, and they say ‘thank you.’ For many Americans, responding with ‘You’re welcome’ carries the implication of ‘Oh, yes, we just did something significant for you.’ It implies ‘I know, you should be thanking me,'” Arjuna explained.
@superdesidrinks i promise you americans are actually very polite !!! #usa #american #thankyou #yourewelcome #english ♬ original sound – Arjuna
He clarified that responding with “You’re welcome” after completing a routine task as part of their job “feels way too formal for that.” This is why younger Americans often opt for responses like “uh-huh,” “no problem,” or “don’t worry about it.”
Arjuna did acknowledge one situation where “You’re welcome” would be an appropriate response to a “thank you.” “But if I donated a kidney to someone, and then they came up to me and were like ‘thank you,’ then I’d be like ‘yeah, you’re welcome,'” he concluded.