Sunday, September 15, 2013

Is it really a problem?

I find solace in that I am not the only one who feels this way. MTV's Bill Flanagan of CBS Sunday Morning finds the phrase, "no problem" to be a problem. 

About three years ago in a instant message when I asked for help from a colleague, I said "Thank you" he replied "np".

This happened a few more times with different colleagues in instant messaging until I looked it up. "np" is a short form meaning "No problem". Honestly I was still perplexed. What does that mean?

When someone is doing their job or exceeding their job and someone else recognizes the effort by saying "Thank you" why is the response "No problem"? It made no sense to me.

Not until recently when I was with a friend who thanked a waitress for bringing our drinks to the table, the waitress replied with "No problem" and my friend blurted out "I hate that phrase".

Immediately I found kinship. "Why?" I asked.

He said, "What does 'problem' mean?"

I said "A 'problem' means something is wrong."

His response "Right, a negative, a bad situation or issue."

By saying "No problem" one is implying that there is not a negative or bad situation. A person doing a service as part of his/her job should not see that task as a problem.

When one is doing one's job, why would one turn attention to a potential problem--negative issue--when one does not exist. Doing one's job, paying attention to others, reacting in ways of service or solving problems is opposite of a negative connotation.

When excelling at at a task, one is at the other end of the spectrum from the negative. The "No problem" response is rather silly.

When is it that "no problem" is an appropriate response? Maybe, when a customer asks, "Would it be a problem to do ..?" and then the appropriate response could be "It would be no problem to ..."

Words having meaning. Giving service at the minimum maybe one's job. Making a customer feel like you enjoy waiting on them gives meaning to your service.

What are more appropriate responses? A simple "You are welcome." A better answer is "My pleasure." What are others? Whatever your response is, don't indicate that it could have been a problem.