â€śThank Youâ€ť for Reading This Column
Thereâ€™s a virus going around that many people likely will think is not a problem â€“ but unfortunately it is something that seems to be more and more irritatingly commonplace.
And when I say â€śirritating,â€ť I need to be mindful of how I put this, because even many of my close acquaintances are part of the issue.
When I thank someone for a favor or service rendered, what Iâ€™ve often noticed creeping into our daily conversation is the use â€“ make that the overuse â€“ of the response â€śNo problem.â€ť
Just when was the appropriate â€śYouâ€™re welcomeâ€ť put out to pasture by so many people?
Picture yourself after being served dinner at a cozy restaurant, or purchasing movie tickets, or checking out at the grocery store, and you courteously say â€śThank you.â€ť Why does the other person say the grating â€śNo problem.â€ť? Or, after paying your car mechanic or dentist $400 for some work, you donâ€™t expect them to say â€śNo problem.â€ť
The all-too-common response of â€śNo problemâ€ť seems to imply in an impersonal way that what the person just did was potentially a burden for them, never mind that it was something they were expected to do.
The phrase seems to be more of the personâ€™s way of responding to how they feel about the interaction, not how the person thanking them feels. Iâ€™ve even heard the saying take on its own variations of â€śNo problemoâ€ť and â€śNo prob,â€ť which are not any less irritating.
I often want to say: â€śDid you think there was a chance that it would be a problem?â€ť
What makes the person think the task was viewed as a problem in the first place? Who gave it that connotation? The giver of the service? The recipient? Was it somehow implied?
The people who say â€śNo problemâ€ť either: 1. Consider it the best response; 2. Donâ€™t realize theyâ€™re using an ill-fitting phrase; or 3. Have just habitually fallen into using the automatic response without thinking about what it implies. (Maybe they just need someone to point it out to them?)
Of course, there are other acceptable responses that could be used under the appropriate casual or serious circumstances: My pleasure, Certainly, Of course and a number of others.
But it is the â€śNo Problemâ€ť response that is tinged with an ungracious tone, as if they really donâ€™t want to say â€śYouâ€™re welcomeâ€ť for something they are supposed to do anyway.
This isnâ€™t to say that the phrase is always out of place. There are situations in which the response is acceptable â€“ such as if you thanked a helpful passerby for stopping to replace a flat tire or if a co-worker helped pick up an armful of your dropped books. â€śNo problemâ€ť could be acceptable because they were not obligated to help and they did something that was not expected of them. But still, a sincere “You’re welcome” is much more cordial.
Maybe it comes down to this: Some people just donâ€™t want to invest any more personal contact in a conversational relationship than they have to, so they use the aloof â€śNo problemâ€ť instead of the more personal response of â€śYouâ€™re welcome.â€ť
I did think of one way to eliminate the â€śNo problemâ€ť response â€“ just donâ€™t say â€śThank you.â€ť
But then a doctor would say that is a case where the treatment is worse than the illness.
Gene Kruckemyer is news editor of the UCF News & Information office and can be reached at email@example.com.