Why Do People Not Say Thank You?

Thank YouOne of the things my parents drummed into my ears as a child was the need to say please and thank you. I don’t know if it is the time we live in or the country we live in (US of A) that has killed this courteous act.

It’s not that I really think that this is an American problem (because Americans are thankful), but I am here in America, and the people I have noticed doing this are Nigerians based here in America. Basically, you attend someone’s event or do something for them and they never, ever feel the need to say thank you. What’s that about?

I remember some years ago I met a lady – let’s call her Jane – at a friend’s event. We instantly hit it off. We exchanged numbers that day, and although we never really called each other, we still ran into each other at places, like church, the African store, etc.

When it was time to celebrate her son’s birthday, Jane bombarded my phone with calls and texts. And when she ran into me anywhere, she did not fail to remind me. When the day finally rolled, I could not even pretend to have forgotten. So I went. And I took some gifts for the little boy.

The party was so disorganized that I ended up MC’ing … and without pay, by the way. It was almost a whole year later before Jane said thank you. And even when she did, it only added salt to the wound. We ran into each other at a public place and she said, “Oh, Vera, I know you’re going to say that I didn’t even call you to say thank you, but I’ve just been so busy.”

Busy???????? I didn’t say anything to respond to her. What was I supposed to say? She had many things to thank me for: (1) I came for her event, (2) I brought a gift, and (3) I MC’d for free – and without prior notice.

But Jane isn’t the first person to pull this kind of stunt, and I know she won’t be the last. The way I function these days is, if I show up to your event and you don’t say thank you, I’m not showing up next time. It’s just that simple.  Do I go for events because I want to be thanked? Of course not. But it’s simple courtesy that when someone does something for you – no matter how big or small – you should say thank you. Express some kind of gratitude.

Now, this brings me to something I have been pondering: when you go to a Nigerian wedding and you sign that guest book with your name, number, e-mail address, and mailing address, what do they do with that information? Cause I have gone to many, many weddings and signed those things and nothing happens afterwards. No calls. No texts. No thank-you notes. No e-mails. Zero. Zilch.

I truly believe that if you can take time out of your busy schedule to invite someone to your event, then you can take time out of your busy schedule to thank them for coming. After all, your guests have done the same thing – taken time out of their busy schedule. I remember when I had a surprise get together for Igwe last year. I called everyone to invite them, and then I sent follow up texts. After the event, I did the same exact thing: I called everyone to say thank you, and then I followed it up with text messages.

There are many ways to thank people. You can (1) Call them, (2) Text them, (3), Send a thank you note, and (4) Send an e-mail. I use all of the above as ways to thank people. Yes, including the hand-written thank you note.

But I’m really curious to know if there is anyone else out there in this big, bad world who feels the same way as I do. And do you think I’m overreacting?

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  1. Chill escape says

    Nne i feel the same way. I don’t understand it atall though, is it that these people were not taught or they just feel entitled? I react the same w ay too Vera if you do not say thank you, I will not attend the next parry.
    I notice that my Yoruba friends do a better job showing appreciation than the Igbo friends. In fact I have this one friend that will be saying thanks and praying for you for about 1week after the parry.

    How will you not attend next time she invites you?

  2. Tai says

    You’ve said it as it is. As much we think it’s common courtesy, it’s really not so common anymore especially if the individual thinks whatever you did is pretty normal. Until we begin to see little deed of kindness as a big deal, we’d never understand why ‘Thank you’ makes the difference.

    • says


      It’s unfortunate that people feel that way. It’s not only when someone buys you a car that you say thank you. Even things as little as holding the door open for you should be received with gratitude. *sigh*

  3. Busola says

    Girl, you already know where I stand with that. Thats is definitely my biggest pet peave. It drives me crazy. Naija people, may God help us.

  4. says

    Last year after my grandmum’s burial. My mum was so upset with me because I didnt have a comprehensive list of the envelopes I got for her. She eventually reviewed the tape thereafter and you can bet that she called/visited everyone she saw in the video and even some that she didnt see. It is a habit I cant help imbibing. So tey, I invite people, I thank them, they invite me, I thank them still.

  5. Manny says

    You are not over-reacting Vera. I hate it when people do it too. It’s not like I do things because I expect to be thanked and lifted up but come on, will saying thank you kill you?
    I have a friend who doesn’t say thank you for anything. Not to waiters, not to cashiers. When she has to say it, she barely opens her mouth. I actually started avoiding her because of that. I just think it’s a very very bad habit.

    • says

      Lol at avoiding her. But really, Manny, it is a terrible habit. Like, why won’t you say thank you? Is it entitlement? Or just plain rude? I’d probably avoid such a person, too.

  6. Pendo says

    This is so close to home I helped organize a close relative’s baby shower with the help of her husband over a year ago as in me and other female relatives went out of our way to make it a very special day for her. We are still waiting for out “thank yous” neither her nor her husband felt the need to thank us for what we did that was the first and last time I will go out of my way to organize anything for this particular relative. I basically felt that all our efforts were for nothing

    • says

      Girllllll, don’t get me started on planning baby showers (and the missing thank you that comes with it). As in! *zipping mouth* Don’t even get me started! I’m getting angry sef just thinking about it now.

  7. says

    It’s important to show appreciation and I don’t think you’re overreacting at all. I haven’t noticed it to be a particularly Nigerian thing (probably because I don’t have too many Nigerian friends), but I did notice that a guy I went on a few dates with never thanked the waitstaff and that was a turnoff for me. I notice when someone doesn’t say thank you when you hold the door for them, or pick up something they’ve dropped, or provide a service for them. It makes me think they were not raised right (though perhaps they just didn’t heed instruction). My mom never misses an opportunity to express thanks, even to me, to the point that I have to tell her to stop thanking me because what I did wasn’t even a big deal! So maybe Chill escape has a point and Yorubas know what’s up! 😉

    I want to commend you on your excellent manners, Vera. When I co-hosted with you on your old radio show, you did exactly what you said you do in this post: you called beforehand, called afterwards to thank me and also thanked me by email or by text. It makes you seem very professional and made me eager to work with you in the future, and I’m sure it’s part of the reason why you’re making big strides in your life today. Don’t ever stop!

    • says

      Awwwww. Thanks, GNG! Can’t believe you remember that. Thank you. I’m like mega blushing right now. You have no idea. Haha. Thank you so much! And ehm, when are we even going to cohost again sef?

  8. says

    It is a Nigerian thing. I remember once when Turtle told me that I was a “nice” person just not a “courteous” person. Our culture is one of expectation. We expect our friends and families to show up to our events, give us gifts, drive us around when we need it etc. We say, “thank you” only when we see them face-to-face. The concept of sending cards, texts, emails etc is a foreign concept to most. I am very aware of this and keep a stockpile of thank you cards at home as well as the email and address of everyone who gives me gifts in cash and kind. On the tough side – since naija weddings often have about 500 people showing up, it can be hard to keep track of all those people and their gifts …

    • says

      Hmmm. Interesting. With the Naija guest thing, i know that 500 might be a large number to follow up with, but just try. Maybe 10 a day or something. I don’t know. But Turtle has made a very interesting observation.

  9. says

    You are not overreacting. Frankly, it pisses me off when people don’t say “thank you”. After all, how much time does it really take? You’re not overreacting at all. I believe people have just lost their way. When I hold the door open for someone and they walk through it without saying “thank you” I say “oh well, you’re welcome.” Watching their facial reactions gets me everytime:-)

    • says

      Loool Nicole, I tell people “you’re welcome,” too when they walk past the door without saying thank you. It’s like, excuse me, I’m not a door woman. I’m just tryna be nice here. Makes you wanna go back in time and not do it. I’m glad sha that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  10. Abi says

    Nah you are not overreacting at all. Despite the fact that I host a lot of parties I always follow up with text messages thanking people for showing up, no matter how large the party is. I think it’s just courtesy to do that

  11. says

    I remember I got a thank you note from you after we co-hosted on your show some time ago, I really appreciated it. I’m not that good but at least I either text or email, or say it there and then.

    • says

      I sent you a thank you note, really? Wow. I don’t even remember. I’m finding myself very attractive right now. Haha. Text or e-mail is fine, too. It’s just nice to say thank you somehow.

  12. amydkoko says

    This is a little off topic, but what are the rules of courtesy when it comes to Facebook. Some people don’t say thank you or at least like your wall post when you tell them happy birthday on Facebook. Can it be excused just because it’s Facebook and some people have over 500 hundred friends that it makes it difficult to respond to each and every person? I want to know what’s the general thought about this.
    I for one get infuriated by people who select who and who they want to respond to or not after receiving a wall post. I find it quite rude. At least like the post even if you don’t want to reply with a message. It’s is my humble opinion.

  13. says

    This is precisely the reason why I’m here reading your post. I couldn’t understand why some people find it so darn hard to utter the two-word phrase “thank you” – and I’m not very happy. I tried to shrug it off many times but each I did something for this person and there was nothing as simple as “thank you” in return from this person, I felt bad. The things I was asked to do sounded like commands, and that made me feel even worse. I’m not taking it upon myself to continue doing things for this person, but I do find it amusing and disturbing that something as simple as a thank-you is so hard to do (and received). Sigh.

    • says

      Alice, you cannot continue doing things for someone who cannot say thank you and show some kind of appreciation. Perhaps, you just need to remind this person that you don’t have to do the things you do.

  14. Travis Rashawn Ford says

    There was a time when I was on the public bus and this elderly lady asked me to pay the bus fare for her because she was disabled. I was kind enough to do it and when I did, she never thanked me for it. I got offended I told her “You’re f*cking welcome!” Not once she had even said thank you but at least I enjoyed seeing her facial expression when I insulted her. I felt a lot better, knowing that I owned her. Yep, just show that people who lacks manners will take anyone for granted. That’s why I no longer do things for strangers.

  15. says

    Nice piece. I have had my own fair share of display of ingratitude too. Its hard to understand how people find it soooo hard to say just two words – thank you. I hope your post goes round and cause a reawakening of good manners. WELLDONE !

  16. says

    Ditto. Well written Vera. Food for Thought: People are people. Observe the situation. Witness your thoughts, feelings, emotions, attitude and behavior. Do you react or respond? Know who you are and what works for you. Thank You is in every language and culture, but not all people vibrate on your frequency of honor, respect and manners. Like birds there are eagles, hummingbirds, peacocks, hawks and swans they all fly, but are innately different. You are within your right to honor yourself by not going to an event where someone does not thank you. If you are an eagle however don’t complain if you are with the ducks or crows! No judgement. No Expectations. One can barely meet the expectations one places on themselves. Observe a persons conduct not their words. They can say anything – or not. The content of their character speaks their truth. You may want to forgive, let go and leave it to God or Moveon.com :-) Respond in Power and Intention without reacting or becoming a victim of a decision. It is all good. Every situation is an opportunity to strengthen the content of our character on our journey of self cultivation, growth and development. Sending Blessings, Love and Light.
    The Prosperity Doctor

  17. Laura L says

    According to US etiquette stanards (including Miss Manners and Emily Post), the guest is required to thank the host for providing her hospitality. The host is NOT required to thank her guests for attending or visiting. So, a US host who does not thank her guests for attending is neither in violation of US etiquette nor being rude.

    However, a recipient of a gift is required to thank the giver for the gift. Likewise, if a complimentary service, such as emceeing an event, is provided by an event attendee, the recipient or beneficiary of that service is required to thank the provider for the service.

  18. Laura L says

    According to US etiquette standards, (including Miss Manners and Emily Post) a guest is required to thank a host for providing her hospitality. A host is NOT required to thank her guests for visiting or attending. Therefore, a host who does not thank her guests is not in violation of US etiquette nor being rude.

    However, etiquette does require a recipient of a gift to thank the giver. Also, a recipient of a complimentary service, such as having an event emceed, is likewise required to thank the giver.

  19. Marko says

    playing armchai3 psychologist i would say they
    just dont value you, or they are affraid if they do they wont look as strong and independant but naive and overlynice

    its also a power thing like ‘hey, im busy stand in line’, like a mindgames talkdown, disgusting but hey


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