What do you say when someone thanks you for something you’ve done for them? The standard English response is: “you’re welcome.” In a recent article Adam Grant challenges our thinking with other words that we might use in response.
I think what got my attention in this article was the notion of interconnectedness through verbal interchanges. In Latin and other Romance languages that have sprung from it, the way one responds to “thank you” is with either nihil, (it was nothing) or libenter. (Freely, as in, I did it freely). The first traditionally freed the other from any obligation, the second affirmed that the act was done without coercion.
Regardless of the words, I like it when we show some consciousness about our interactions. Recently, after teaching upper level Latin students for a few days with new vocabulary, we read a story in which all those new words appeared, but by the time we read the story, they knew all the new words. This is my standard way of teaching, but, for whatever reason, on this day, as students were leaving class, a girl looked at me, smiled and said: “I saw what you did there.” I understood her to be saying: I saw how you set us up to read that story and understand it.” It felt so good to be seen. I don’t go around waiting to be noticed, but on that day, she saw what I had done (do routinely) and I felt appreciated. More than that, it felt like we had become new allies in learning.
How do we notice,and make conscious, our interchanges? Are we making a storehouse of new allies in the various things we do each day–by how we notice each other, see the bigger picture, and respond?
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