‘No Problem’. Two seemingly innocuous words that people use all the time, especially at work. Often we use it instead of saying other common phrases such as, ‘of course’, or as a way of saying, ‘you’re welcome’ when something thanks us for doing something. It is pretty harmless, right?
Wrong. For some reason, these two words really have a tendency to rub people up the wrong way.
Many workplaces have an unofficial blacklist of irritating phrases and ‘no problem’, is often on it right alongside ‘no worries’.
It’s fair to say that most people who use these common expressions do so to be polite, personable and professional but unfortunately if you are one of these people you need to be aware that you could be giving off the total opposite impression to the very people who matter most.
Consider the Meaning
Now this can all seem a little harsh, especially if it is not something you’ve considered to be remotely annoying. As a young professional it may seem slightly churlish for someone to point out that this particular phrase can be super-irritating especially if you use it yourself as an alternative for saying, ‘sure’.
It’s only when you start to look at it from the point of view of someone like a manager who has people directly reporting to them that the penny drops. If you ask someone to do something and they say, ‘no problem’, it can be something that starts to annoy.
Firstly, it can be seen as a slightly dismissive; an off-the-cuff response which undermines their supervisory position and secondly, there is an unspoken implication that one day if they are asked to do something that there could be a problem.
In a business context when said to a professional superior it implies that you are doing them a favor when in fact, you are doing your job and it is your responsibility to do the tasks you have been assigned.
There are plenty of other ways to convey that something is not going to be a problem without ever using those two words. It could have a generational component to it but I have heard a number of people say that they simply cannot stand it when people use this particular phrase.
If this is making you doubt whether or not you should use the phrase maybe its time you moved on to more universally acceptable ones like ‘any time’, or, ‘my pleasure’ or even ‘yes, absolutely’. For many people, the phrase “no problem” really is no problem, but is it worth taking the risk?