Monday, November 18, 2013

The Problem with... No Problem

You've all likely said this at some point...  in response to someone thanking you for helping them out or doing them a favour... you've responded to their Thank-You with the phrase... 'No Problem'.

It sounds innocent enough, a couple of words offered often as a way of remaining humble in the face of someone's thanks.  However, sometimes our words can work against us, in ways we don't realize, and this is one of those times.  In fact, I want to categorically state, up front, that my hope is that, after reading this blog, you forever and always strike the phrase 'No Problem' from your vocabulary. Forever!  Truly!

Here's what happens.  Someone asks us to do something.  Typically, it is something that they want and need immediately because they failed to plan properly and are under the gun.  This is their issue, not yours, and yet their request of you now shifts it into being - your problem.  Although you are busy yourself, you succumb to their pleas, tears and Bambi-like eyes and somehow manage to squeeze it into your already overloaded schedule.  That bathroom break you had planned?  Gone!  That quick pop out to actually get some lunch? Not going to happen.  Their work though?  Done!

In the face of their thanks then, why would we ever want to leave them with the impression that fulfilling their request was, in fact, no problem?  It was a big problem!  We didn't eat.  We put our work on hold, some of which we will likely take home with us to get done.  We didn't have time to pee for heaven's sake and yet, we politely inform the other party that fitting their work into our day was... No Problem for us.

Think for a moment of the impact of those seemingly harmless two little words.

  • The other party believes that this was no problem for us and therefore won't hesitate to dump things our way in the future.  We obviously aren't all that busy.
  • The other party is wounded and feels diminished because work that they struggled with caused you no angst.  Hmmm... are they that 'slow' around everything?
  • Your time and efforts have now been de-valued.  The other person needn't be indebted to you because what you did for them was not a big deal.  No favours owed here!
  • When it comes time to recognise those that go over and above in helping others, your name is curiously missing from the list because, after all, everything you had done was no problem and is therefore not remembered.
There are so many other ways to respond to someone else's thanks that don't diminish you, your value or worth... start using them!

  • You're welcome.  (Plain, basic, to the point, but sometimes simple works best!)
  • My pleasure.  (Great to use when it is true!)
  • It was a challenge but I know how important this was for you.  (Good one to use when you know you're going to need to ask a favour of them soon!)
  • I'm pleased that I managed to make it happen!  (Good for highlighting that you weren't sure you could but were willing to go out on a limb for them anyway!)
  • I can't always manage to squeeze more into my days but I'm glad I was able to accommodate you today (great if you want them to think twice about asking in future!)
The above are good starting points and likely are highlighting for you many other, more creative, and more positively impactful ways to respond to someone else's thanks.  And... before you thank me for offering you this lesson today, let me respond upfront with a very heart felt...  It was my pleasure!

1 comment:

  1. So appropriate at this time of year. Feeling overwhelmed by accomplishing extra work for someone other than yourself can most often cause resentment and so their true appreciation for the work, energy and compromises made by us for them goes a very long way. Thanks for the was a great help for my current work situation.


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