Open Thread

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This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.


  1. Patricia and Mark Hill

    I attend a cardio aqua fitness class at a local fitness center. I have had trouble hearing the instructor because of conversations among others in the class. What is appropriate etiquette in such a class?

    • Elizabeth

      Bring it up to the instructor. She can make an announcement at the beginning of the next class saying that she received some complaints and some people cannot hear. You could also try to position yourself closer to the instructor and away from the talkers.

      • Vanna Keiler

        Great advice Elizabeth. I had the exact same problem in a college class I was taking. The instructor hesitated to tell the offenders, even privately, in the fear of offending them (go figure!). She did try and assert herself more during the lecture, however, when the offenders would talk out of turn or over her. Eventually, several classes later, the yappers changed seats on their own and one of them dropped the class. Sometimes these problems sort themselves out over time, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to nudge it along. :)

  2. Tarah


    I am having a military/black tie wedding. There will be a very large contingent of military people there. What is a good way of wording on the wedding website that military dress is encouraged? I do not want to mandate what they wear, but would love for as many people as possible to be in military dress. Plus, it saves them from having to rent a tux.

    Thank you for your advice!

    • Jody

      Tarah, I attended a wedding like yours, where the bride & groom wanted to encourage military attire (the groom is a retired Marine). If I recall correctly, at the bottom of the invitation, where you would list “black tie” or something similar, they also listed “military uniforms [or attire?] encouraged.”

  3. Southern Gentleman

    There’s a lot of people these days who respond to the phrase “Thank You” with the phrase “No Problem” instead of the standard “You’re Welcome”.
    I always say you’re welcome, and when I hear people say “no problem” it really makes me cringe. I find it a little rude and lazy, and don’t think it proper or appropriate although, I could be wrong.
    I would love to know others thoughts on this epidemic.

    • Elizabeth

      No problem has become ubiquitous in today’s usage, so in my opinion it’s no use finding it to be rude or lazy, because it’s just so common. I also think of it in comparison to other languages. For instance, the proper response to thank you in Spanish is ‘de nada’, or ‘it’s nothing’, ‘don’t mention it’, or ‘you’re welcome’. Actually, in English (in more old-fashioned or formal contexts), I think ‘don’t mention it’, or ‘not at all’ are considered proper responses to ‘thank you’. They all basically mean the same thing, so I would take it in the spirit in which it is given.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      You are correct that “you’re welcome” is the appropriate response. I think sometimes people say “no problem” as an attempt to communicate that whatever you are thanking them for wasn’t hard and you don’t owe them anything, an admirable desire. When I’m in a situation where I want to communicate that sentiment, I say “You’re welcome” and then say “it was no problem” or some equivalent. Perhaps you can do this and hope others will follow your example. :)

      • Winifred is right that “you’re welcome” is most appropriate in English; however, some respond “no problem” not only for the reason she mentioned, but also because that is the appropriate response in other cultures. In Spanish, one responds to “gracias” with “de nada” (literally “of nothing”). In Italian, they respond with “prego” or “di niente,” neither of which actually translates to “you’re welcome.”

        • Southern Gentleman

          Thank you for sharing your thoughts Ladies, I appreciate hearing different perspectives, and it definitely gives me some things to think about.

  4. Dear Southern Gentleman,
    In my seminars as a business etiquette instructor, I talk about the “magic words”; people usually remember “please and thank you” but most have forgotten “you’re welcome”. The words “no problem” or “no worries” have taken their place, and when I bring this up for discussion, there is always something of an uproar because people are very tired of it! I have had several clients tell me they typically respond to “no problem” with “Good. I’m glad doing your job is not a problem for you.” While it’s not a response I would recommend (at all!), I do understand their frustration, as it has come to be a phrase that rolls off the tongue automatically, with little thought or sentiment behind it.
    My suggestion is to use the words “you’re welcome” or “my pleasure!” — and if you have gone out of your way to do something for someone that truly was no problem, then add some extra words to it, ie. “It was no problem; I’m glad I could help.” It is amazing the difference in attitude and facial expression these little changes can make — in part because it is about making that genuine connection with the other person.
    As for translation of the words in other languages, much depends on the culture; how a word is used — and said — makes all the difference.

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