Is “No problem!” your go-to response when someone presents a problem to resolve?

Is “No problem!” your organization’s mantra?

A verbal reply to any responsibility faced sets a tone. The initial words are important because they create expectations and influence the way others perceive what comes next—the process and outcome.

Therefore, is “No problem!” the ideal answer?

Consider your tone of voice. 

Granted, how the words come out matter as much as (or more than) what a person says. Hearing “No problem at all!” in a positive, singsong voice certainly delivers a different connotation than if someone sighed and mumbled, “No … problem.”

Other cues like curt speech and sarcasm clearly convey that an individual does not want to deal with the issue: This is a problem for me, thank you very much!

Negative tones easily emerge when an expression like no problem is the pat answer. Notably, while busy or simply caught up in a routine of work, people are less likely to pay attention to how they sound to others, much less consider using different expressions. Accordingly, while operating on autopilot, they can turn no problem into a meaningless next in line, even if that wasn’t their intention.

Also, some don’t care how they come across. People who have an overall bad attitude regarding an obligation, including one related to their employment, rarely strive to conceal their resentment. Many, in fact, can’t help themselves and make a point of emphasizing the word problem

Consider your written tone.

Written words also set a tone, but minus any jolly notes, how do readers interpret no problem?

An exclamation point for emphasis and other clarifying remarks add a positive ring of sincerity: No problem! I appreciate the opportunity to make the presentation and can’t wait to meet with you on Sunday afternoon. 

Reading between the lines, however, some would interpret that the big opportunity outweighed the relatively small imposition of meeting on Sunday afternoon. The word problem looms, giving the notion of … let’s be honest … a problem to some degree.

The message becomes utterly positive when the problem goes away: My pleasure! I appreciate the opportunity to make the presentation and can’t wait to meet with you on Sunday afternoon. 

Replace any notion of a problem with a positive.

Whether confronting difficulties or tackling everyday tasks, it’s important to be conscientious of words and tone if interacting positively and helping people feel valued are goals. Therefore, while accustomed to hearing the words no problem, many should consider saying something else. Importantly, leaders of organizations set the tone through their own communications, which almost always reflect their personal priorities, including consideration for others.

In addition to my pleasure, sentiments like I’m so happy to help and you are most welcome demonstrate enthusiasm, readiness, respect and even appreciation—winning attitudes that tend to see each engagement as a meaningful moment or continuing opportunity.

My best to you,

Sallie W. Boyles, a.k.a. Write Lady

Thoughts or questions? Please contact Sallie Boyles, owner of Write Lady Inc., to exchange ideas about effective communications and gain from professional writing and editing services. Receive monthly tips and insights by subscribing at www.writelady.com.