The Problem With 'No Problem'

  1. The other day, @kaitmaree posted a list about things she's trying to be better at, and it included saying 'you're welcome' instead of 'no problem.'
  2. It really hit home for me, because I also often reply to 'thanks' or 'sorry about X' with 'no problem.'
  3. It's a habit I formed back in college, or maybe even high-school, after I once heard someone say no worries over what truly was something not worth worrying about.
  4. I immediately started using 'no worries' and 'no problem,' because I tend to be an empathetic optimist. I like to make others feel comfortable and to put them at ease, and saying no worries or no problem is a small way to lift the burden of anxiety from someone's shoulders, even if it's at my own expense.
  5. 'No problem' is often an honest and appropriate response in a number of situations.
    You pick something up for a friend, you help move furniture, you give someone a ride—just a few examples of when no problem or no worries are great responses!
  6. But it's not always an appropriate response. It's often not honest. Sometimes, having to go out of my way for someone IS a big deal and problem.
  7. Example: when a consultant at work owes me something on a deadline I've set. And I remind them of this (perhaps multiple times), and they still don't get the deliverable to me on time. They turn it in late, with however legitimate an excuse accompanied by an I'm sorry/thanks for your patience.
  8. And I reply with 'no problem.' Because, frankly, I want to be seen as the person who is care-free, flexible, and can also handle anything, any work load, any situation.
    I sometimes think that if people know they've caused me extra work, they won't necessarily just feel bad themselves, they, or others at the office (aka my boss) may also worry that I'm not capable of handling it and working under added stress
  9. What the words 'no problem' signify is that missing the deadline was fine. It didn't cause me any trouble. It was NBD, because I can handle anything without breaking a sweat. But the reality of the matter is that them missing a deadline means I have to work twice as hard, under a tight time constraint to make sure I myself don't miss a deadline.
  10. What I should say in response is 'you're welcome;' acknowledging their situation and their gratefulness for my flexibility and understanding in a gracious way, WITHOUT undermining my own work, effort, and time.
  11. I need to remind myself that saying 'you're welcome' isn't any less gracious than 'no problem' or 'no worries;' that it's ok if sometimes things ARE a problem or DO cause me worry. And it's not a weakness to admit that I can't handle everything with perfect ease, and for people to see that.
  12. Thank you, Kait, for reminding me to say 'you're welcome.'