Last week I visited a museum. I was excited to see a new exhibit. I went to the membership desk to get my pass, and was partially greeted by a 20-something intern or part-time employee. She was having a laugh with a co-worker and was in no rush to help me. After she finished her exchange with the other intern, she turned to me, looked at my card, and gave me my day pass. I said, “Thank you.” Though perhaps I was less gracious than I would have been for a more professional interaction. She said, “No Problem.” unfortunately, this is not unusual. When did “You’re Welcome” become ubiquitous? When I thank a service provider what I now often get in return is “No Problem.” As in “Thank you for helping me with the party.” Mary was hired to help serve and clean-up at a party we gave this summer. At the end of the evening, I thanked her for the work. She responded with “No Problem.” My thought was, it shouldn’t be a problem, it was your job. “My pleasure,” is an appropriate response. “No Problem” should be reserved for those times when you want to put someone at ease. When my friend takes me out to lunch and I thank her, she says, “No Problem.” Lovely. It is a kind response and it equalizes the imbalance of having her pay. When my cousin went out of her way to visit my parents, and I acknowledge her for it. She said, “No Problem.” It was generous to say that since she spent time and took the time and effort to do a nice thing. However, more often I hear “No Problem” in situations in which there was never an implied problem in the first place. And, I hear this all the time, at the grocery check out, the coffee shop, restaurants, sales people, help desks, and more.
The only time I want to hear, no problem, is when a friend has done me a favor and I thank them. Then “No Problem” is a wonderful response. But doing one’s job is not doing me a favor. It’s Your Job! I assume it is not problem for anyone to do the tasks that make up the job and for which he or she is paid. If it is a problem, perhaps getting a different job is in order. I miss good service, and helpful staff. It may be generational. And, if so, let’s err on the side of manners, and have that be “No Problem.”
I can certainly relate to this – simply rules of courtesy and professionalism seem to be fading into the past. Perhaps it IS generational and all of the electronic communication has stunted the ability to communicate person to person in the same way it is crippling the art of writing.