Words Matter

“Words. words, mere words, no matter from the heart.” William Shakespeare

We choose our words and manner of how we communicate with each other.  Our word choices revel our intention or lack of intention.

I have a pet peeve that played out last week while traveling.  In restaurants and other service locations I heard repeatedly, “no problem” as a response to my simple “thank you”.  It is more and more common for people, especially younger people, to use this term “no problem” instead of “you are welcome” or “my pleasure“ in response to a “thank you”.



Two of my least favorite words.

I searched the internet to see if I was alone in my bother; just another grumpy old man pointing fingers at the younger set. From national news sites to fellow bloggers – there are plenty of people who feel the same as me.  No problem is a problem.

As a counter, some people argue that we have a more casual society these days and “no problem” fits this mindset. We are borrowing from the Australian’s “no worries” and we all need to chill out. Yet still my pet peeve persists. I am not swayed and still say a simple “you are welcome” is best.  And when appropriate bring in the big guns, “my pleasure”.

Yet, I am uncomfortable writing a post simply to log my vote on this matter. That is not my style. There is more here and something deeper is bothering me.

We need focus more on our intention.

Intention = to have in mind a purpose or plan, to direct the mind, to aim.

Saying “no problem” is a lack of intention. It is a casual response that when looked at closer is meaningless at best and dismissive at worst.  If asked why one says “no problem” as a response, I bet the answer is a blank stare, “I don’t know. Everyone says it.”

Life should be mindful and lived intentionally. The best service providers are mindful of their words and actions and how it all weaves together a successful interaction. “No problem” has no place in authentic customer service.  The best service involves acknowledgement of each other. Words and intention are equally important. My “thank you” must be thoughtful and true as well.

Speaking of word choice … my daughter continues her internship at Disneyland. She is in the flow now working on her ride … sorry, her “attraction”. She has her uniform … sorry, her “costume”. She starts in the back office and then walks onto the work floor … sorry, she starts “backstage” and then goes “on stage”. These words have meaning and set the employees’ (oops, cast members) intention to how they provide service to the customers … yep, the “guests”.

I did ask her, while she attended orientation classes, if the instructors talked about language choice and specifically if they discussed the term “no problem”. No, they did not talk about it, but they did talk about providing well-intentioned service. We talked about how she responds to guests while in the park and true enough, “you are welcome” works for her. She also told me that an honest smile goes a long way. Indeed, a well-meant smile is full of great words.

Oh well, the old man is left with his pet peeve.  “No problem” I say to myself. Indeed, not a problem, an opportunity.  Words matter.

2 thoughts on “Words Matter

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  1. I agreed entirely and add that many responses are directed at the self such as “no problem” or “my pleasure” is all about the other person! Its an all about me society….more narcisstic everyday. Excellent article and points very well stated…

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