Not since “no problem” replaced “you’re welcome” have two words struck me as socially rude as “thanks anyway.” The underlying message gets right under my skin and makes it crawl. At times, I can feel the irritation creep its way up the back of my neck where a muscle just below the base of my skull twitches in response.
Why the reaction? I’m not sure. But I can take a stab at guessing the reason this makes me so nuts.
To me, the term translates to: “you’re a moron if you think that is helpful,” or “you don’t know me at all if you think your suggestion would be helpful,” “yeah, that might work in most situations, but you’re just not listening to how my situation is different.”
It’s a dismissal of a suggestion; it discounts your recommendation; it simply negates a helpful tip. And it is this negative response that grates on me. And how!
I see this tag line, “thanks anyway” as a kind of reverse thank you note.
The message is clear: butt out.
A simple “thank you” is preferred to “thanks anyway” any day.
“Thanks anyway,” is not a term used to express gratitude. It’s used to tell someone that not only are his/her opinions wanted, they are not welcome, and/or the advice will not be headed.
I find a certain meanness associated with the phrase. This response tell me that I am indeed a dufus, without any common sense or decency, and if were as thoughtful as I pretended to be, I would not have made the comment that elicited this response. And while I have not spent as much time considering why this phrase sends my blood pressure skyward, as I have thinking of ways to get into the pop machine of a tenant in our office building—Warner Brothers Music—because I’ve been told it dispenses beer, I do continue to wonder why (oh, why?) I find this phrase hurtful.
And I think I know. I wonder if this phrase is turned on me, like the spray from a water hose turned on rioters, only when I knowingly overstep boundaries.
And maybe that’s what irks me.
Editor's Note: June 2012.
I had recently some fun with this saying when the editor of a small blog with a geriatric audience rejected a submission with a note about why she was rejecting it.
Admittedly, I wondered if the essay was a good fit. The blog was messy and chock-full of poorly written articles; a place where I would not spend my online reading time, if you know what I mean. But I submitted my work anyway. Lesson learned. The blog owner claimed that my argument was flawed and that the essay would “leave the few who got to the end of the article just shaking their heads.” In other words, long-winded and pointless. (Perhaps a good edit would help?)
I’ve been rejected by far better writers and editors, but never from a second-rate blogger. In truth, I was hurt that this person would berate a submission from another writer. Especially when so much on the blog is, uh, clearly at the low-end of novice.
I wish she had more faith in her readers.
I wrote back. “Lol. Thanks, anyway.”