“No Problem” is a Problem

trust-528121_1280I’d like to add my two cents to two words; two very common words.

Here’s the scenario. You take your seat in a restaurant and a young waiter, who obviously would rather be somewhere else, takes your order.

Since you’re a good chap you say, “Thank You” to which he responds, “No Problem”. And there they are – those two words that linger at the table like a thinly veiled sneer.

“No problem”. Is that what customer service has become? No problem? I’m sorry, but no problem is a problem.

What is your young waiter friend communicating to you with his “no problem”? If he were to suddenly acquire the verbal agility to do so, he would probably say something along the lines of….

“Ordinarily my job is a real pain, but it hasn’t gotten to the point of being a real problem yet.”

“I’m not sure why you’re here or why I have to interact with you, but I’ll deal with it.”

“Waiting on people is a degrading drag, but in this particular case it’s tolerable.”

“I just want you to appreciate how magnanimous I am by taking the time to address your concerns.”

To which we are, I presume, admiringly and gratefully to say, “Wow, I’m so glad that my presence is not too overwhelmingly inconvenient for you!”

Now before you dismiss this as an unhinged rant of a crusty old man, consider the bigger issue in play. Service – the bigger issue is service. Is serving one another degrading drudgery to be avoided? Is it borderline problematic? Jesus didn’t think so.

In fact, according to him, serving is the fast track to greatness. On one occasion, he broke up an argument among his disciples who were fighting about which one was the greatest.

Jesus pulled the plug on their false notion of greatness by saying, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant…” (Mt. 20:26)

To those of us in customer service (and most of us are in some degree in customer service), may I suggest a more appropriate two word response?

Instead of, “no problem”, how about a simple, “you’re welcome”? Or, dare I say it, “my pleasure”.  And there, in two words, the issue of service is laid bare;  “Problem” or “pleasure”. Is serving others a problem or a pleasure? Is doing your job a pain or a privilege?

The Christmas season is once again upon us, and I’d like to play a little Yule Tide game. During the month of December count the number of times you are told that you are not a problem with a “no problem”, “not a problem” and all their snarky variations.

Think about it. Is that really how you want to be known? Is that how you want to be remembered? “Here lies so and so. She was not a problem”.

No, you are welcome, you are valued and you are important. Surely it is so in God’s eyes and, by all rights, in other people’s eyes as well.

Some of you might be thankful for this topic being brought to the table. To you I say, “You are more than welcome. It is a pleasure to be of service”.