When No Problem Really is a Problem

There are some words and phrases that are creeping or have crept into everyday usage that I am hoping will creep back out. I must admit I’m as guilty as anyone of getting into sloppy habits, using words and phrases that have taken the place of what I should be saying. Calling everyone “guys,” regardless of the gender of the people in my audience, is a shortcut that I am guilty of. I am working hard to stop doing that.

More and more, these days I am hearing the words, “No problem” as a response to a thank you a server, retailer clerk or other person in a service oriented business has received from a customer. What happened to “You’re welcome” or “It’s my pleasure” as an answer when someone is thanked?

The words, “No problem” have become an all too familiar response and I find it’s easy to fall into the habit of saying it, though I don’t like it. Many times, when I am being thanked, it is for doing the job I am being paid to do, so I should not be intimating in any way that I was even thinking that helping someone or doing my job was a problem for me.

This however is not the main reason I don’t like “no problem” as a response. We have taken a perfectly good positive response “You’re welcome” and instead use two negative words, the word NO and the word PROBLEM. We have also taken the spotlight from our customer (telling them that they are welcome to our best service) and put it firmly on ourselves (it is no problem for me). Even saying, “It’s my pleasure,” intimates that it is my pleasure to serve you (the customer) and when said with a sincere smile, can go a long way to making people feel special.

I encourage you to look at the language you use with visitors and customers and see if it is projecting the image you want to project. Is the language primarily positive, or are you saying things in negative rather than positive ways?

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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2 comments on “When No Problem Really is a Problem

  1. Linda Singer says:

    At last! I thought I was the only person who rankles at the common “no problem” response. It absolutely implies there IS a problem. My only response can be, “I hope not.” It leaves me feeling a little anxious, while “it’s my pleasure” leaves me feeling smiled upon.

    Thanks for sharing.

    (Slightly worse: I recently participated in a round-about of state legislators, presenting them with hard data on the Michigan tourism industry. When we thanked one young aide who accepted our handouts for the representative, he responded, “No sweat.” No kidding. Make “no problem” seem almost classy.

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