What’s the problem with “no problem”?

Almost no one says “you’re welcome” when thanked these days. The exceedingly rude-sounding “no problem”, or — much worse — “no worries”, is the usual response (if ANY) to the simple “thank you”. “No problem” is tossed back with utter lack of care or notice – appropriately enough, since it indicates brain-death like a flatline. If you know enough to respond to thanks offered you for a task or deed, you should know enough to say “you’re welcome”.

Whenever a shop assistant (aka “team-member”, “associate” — of what or whom?, I ask myself) answers my thanks with “no problem”, I reply “I should HOPE there’s no problem; it’s your JOB” upon deaf ears and to a blank stare. But I’ve noticed that when I congratulate (and thank) the utterer of “you’re welcome” for her or his usage of the appropriate response to thanks, I get a pleasant reply. I rest my case.

PS. What, I wonder, will replace thank you, or thanks? Oh, that’s already happened: no thanks!

This entry was posted in Manners, Nit-picking, Yanks vs. Brits on by .

About Alison

FDR & Hitler were still alive when I was born, but just barely. Raised to be a snob, especially about words — how they’re used and pronounced and spelled. Retired from office work but not from Glossophilia. Travel quite a bit, often revisiting sites I already like (cf. re-reading favorite books). I listen to opera and other classical music, AKA ‘good’ music, and go to concerts & operas in NYC and on my travels. I take a lot of photographs. I am very close to a younger sister who lives nearby and have an elderly dachshund. I am nowhere nearly as snobbish about red wines as about words, writing, speaking and behavior, but then I know a lot less about red wines.

3 thoughts on “What’s the problem with “no problem”?

  1. Louise

    This is very interesting, Alison, because in the UK (and perhaps in other European countries?), giving a response to ‘thank you’ isn’t automatic, or even necessarily expected. I think this is an American phenomenon. I’m still trying to get used to saying “you’re welcome” even 13 years after arriving on American soil. I’m going to put this in the category of “Yanks vs. Brits” to see if others agree …

  2. Barrie England

    ‘No problem’, ‘no worries’ and ‘that’s alright’ (or ‘that’s OK’) all seem to me to acknowledge the thanks offered just as much as ‘you’re welcome’. They do so less formally, but not necessarily less sincerely. Similarly, French has ‘je vous en prie’, but also the less formal ‘de rien’.

  3. Jeremy Wheeler

    I must say that I agree with Barrie. To resent the response ‘no problem’ seems churlish in the extreme and ill-mannered. As it happens I never say ‘you’re welcome’, preferring ‘not at all’, ‘don’t mention it’, ‘my pleasure’, to name but three alternatives. I don’t, however, insist that anyone else adopt my lexicon. It is, after all, the thought that counts.


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