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I have a manager that thanks me occasionally for doing the basic duties of my job. Especially when she has a vacation day or a sick day and asks me to cover for her, she always comes in with a large amount of gratitude. This usually has the effect of making me feel a bit off put, and I respond with "Yeah, of course" in 90% of the cases. I feel this isn't a great way to respond to her thanks, and feel it creates a sort of chasm in our working relationship.

How can I professionally accept a thanks or apology from my boss without seeming insincere?

  • "No worries" and a big smile to show you appreciate the feedback. – Kilisi May 4 '16 at 1:52
  • A simple "thank you" can go a long way. Your boss sounds more like she appreciates you doing your job, but if she nominates you for the Nobel Prize, you may want to help real her in. – user8365 May 4 '16 at 19:01
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Some thoughts about baseline expectations...

First - if I have an employee who I know has the capability to really handle things when I'm out, I really value that. Having watched many fail, I'd say it's harder than it looks and often the folks who are naturally good at it don't realize how many people are NOT naturally good. So it could well be that while you think it's no big deal, she has had other experience.

That said, some people are effusive thank-you givers. They like making a big deal out of seemingly normal things --- and sometimes that's just how they are. It's certainly better to be excessively grateful than excessively demeaning!

A couple thoughts if it's driving you absolutely crazy:

  • Look for effusiveness in multiple places - it may not be just you, the boss may just be a big thank-you giver. Or effusive about a lot of things. Or effusive in particular situations. Look for a pattern. If it's just you, that may be rather weird, but I'll bet you may not have noticed the other cases.
  • Take a quiet moment out of the loop and ask if there's a reason. Something like - "I really appreciate that you notice the extra work I do when you're not here, it's great to be appreciated. But it's been pretty easy to do and hardly seems worth all your praise. Is there something I'm missing about the value of how I'm helping? I feel like I loaned you a spare pen and you thank me like I just gave you a sports car." Do it in private and make sure you stay positive about it.

I often use humor in these situations - but that's a difficult and personal choice. I have a big personality and I'm known as a person who likes a good laugh. The humor is never a put-down (of anyone but myself) and aims to be inclusive. But it's a natural response for me to deal with awkwardness. If using humor feels even more awkward, it will seem that way to your listeners, too, so skip it.

A good litmus test is - if all these suggestions seem like too much work to you, then let it go - it's really not a big deal unless it's bugging you, so only you can know how much it bothers you.

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    Instructions unclear, gave sports car in exchange for pen. But in reality, I feel this really addresses the question. +1 from me. – Anoplexian May 3 '16 at 22:06
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Your boss is attempting to show that you are appreciated. Take it for what it's worth, and a polite "my pleasure" or "you're welcome" is enough.

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How can I professionally accept a thanks or apology from my boss without seeming insincere?

A quick reply along the lines of "Wow, thanks boss. I really appreciate the gratitude! But I think it's all just part of the job." would convey your thanks adequately.

It would also show that you think it's just an expected part of the job.

And it certainly wouldn't create any more chasms.

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If it makes you feel put off then yes that is a problem. If it creates chasm then you are the one creating the chasm. The intent from your boss is to enhance the working relationship and show appreciation for your work. You should working on replying "you are welcome" and be sincere.

  • @anoplexian Did you vote me down as the timing sure makes it appear you did. You are the same OP that complained about not enough feedback at a review. And another question you would not do more work without more pay. Have you considered you are maybe a bit hard to please and have a chip on your shoulder? You have certainly indicated to me a lack of professionalism in your questions. – paparazzo May 3 '16 at 22:04
  • I downvoted because I didn't feel it answered the question, and focused on the (perceived) gap in our relationship, rather than focusing more on the question about the way to approach the situation. It's not personal, but it's really up to you whether you choose to take it that way. Regardless of what you think of my issues or questions is irrelevant, and I accepted (and upvoted) the answer I best felt answered the question. Please refrain from insulting the questions because of the bias you seem to think I have against you. – Anoplexian May 4 '16 at 20:06

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