Donna and I are traveling in China – actually I write this while on the new high-speed train from Beijing to Shanghai. As I thought about what entry I could pull from the archives, this one immediately came to mind.
In the week we have been in this wonderful country, we quickly realized how cross-cultural the phrase “no problem” has become. Even when people we meet know very little of our language, this response is quick to come.
Below is the original post – as relevant today as it was last year.
We are a problem-focused culture – and probably planet. Just one look or listen to the news brings a litany of the daily blues and Challengers of the world.
One everyday example of our problem-centric mindset is the emergence over the past decade or so of the response of “No problem” that we often get when we thank someone. (This may be an idiom particular to the particularly U.S. – I really am not certain.)
The next time you are in a restaurant or the grocery or somewhere you are being “served,” notice what the response is when you say “thank you.” There is a better-than-even chance that you will hear “no problem” at least as often “you’re welcome” (or some other affirming response).
Why do I have a problem with “no problem?” Only that the language subtly reinforces the problem-focused Victim Orientation. It keeps us psychological interacting around what we don’t want, which is a problem.
From a Creator Orientation, it seems to me that, in additional to the traditional “you’re welcome,” something that reinforces a positive outcome is in order (after all, we are thanking the other because of a positive outcome). Responses like “glad you like it” or “happy to” or “it’s my pleasure” or “it’s alright” keeps the focus on what we want and like.
In the coming days, pay attention to how you respond when people say “thanks” to you and respond in the affirmative. The subtle ways we use language can really influence the course of an interaction or conversation.