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No more "no problem!"

February 18, 2011

I engaged in a conversation with several ladies while picking up jobwork at a local business. One of them told me "No problem" when I asked if she could do something for me and the other lady reminded her that she wasn't supposed to use the negative-sounding statement.
According to them, "No problem" is a double-negative statement. "No," of course, implies a denial or negative. Even parenting classes emphasize avoiding the word "no" when speaking with your children. Parenting classes want parents to keep it positive by saying "Sure, you can do _____ when you finish _____." It's harder than it seems!
The problem with the "problem" part of the statement is that it implies the person created a problem with their request. We all know that creating problems is negative!
Just to be the devil's advocate, I argued that "no" and "problem" were both negative, so mathematically, two negatives make a positive. That didn't convince them.
A friend I was with stated it seemed positive to her because you were stating that it wouldn't create a problem. That didn't convince them either.
This led us to other phrases that annoy us. For example, filler phrases such as "you know," "like," "uh," "um," etc. So, like, you know, if you, uh, can't say anything, um, like, clearly, maybe you should, you know, like think it through first.
So, when speaking, try to keep it positive and concise...and remember to organize your thoughts before speaking!