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Reader questions 'civil behaviour 101'

February 5, 2017

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To the Editor:

What is this statement “No Problem”? Why do we hear it daily, multiple times, in restaurants, shops, hotels, and offices – businesses in the “service sector” of the economy? What does it tell our customers, guests, clients? We even use it in conversation with friends and acquaintances. Why do we say it?

In the Gage Canadian Dictionary, the word “No” is defined as “a word used to deny, refuse or disagree; a denial, refusal,” and “Problem” is defined as “a question, especially a difficult question; a matter of doubt or difficulty; something to be worked out”.

 If these definitions are true, then, for example, a request by a dinner guest for a glass of water has just been responded to with a refusal followed by the suggestion that this request is also a problem or difficulty. A client who asks for a statement of their account because their computer is not functioning at the moment gets the same message, as does the person who had a reservation at your hotel for a three night stay – off season!!

When did we start using this phrase, “No problem”?

Time was when requests for assistance for specific acts of service, that are considered part of one’s duties in the job that we are hired to perform, were responded to in a different manner.

Examples of this communication in transactions are suggested below.

Client statement: “May I have a glass of water, please?” Wait staff response: “Certainly. I will bring that right away.”

Customer: “Would you print a copy of the January statement for me, please?” Staff person response: “It would be my pleasure. I will put paper in the printer and run that off for you.”

Guest: “Thank you for a pleasant stay this week.” Desk Staff response: “We appreciate your choosing our Inn for your stay in Southampton. We look forward to seeing you again.” Customer: “Thank you for your help this afternoon. I think this suit will be perfect for my daughter’s wedding next month.”  Shop staff: “It was my pleasure to help you find it. Please come and see us again.”

Click the orange arrow to read the second column

Re-read the Client/guest/customer statements again, to yourself, and insert the words “No problem” as the staff response. Which makes you feel like a valued user of the services provided by the business? Which response makes you feel that you would enjoy returning to that business again, soon?

May I be so bold as to suggest that this communication response is also valid in non-business relationships, however casual they may be? Perhaps a person on the street is struggling with many parcels after an exceedingly successful shopping day in Southampton.

You: “Let me help you carry those packages. You seem to be struggling a bit.”  Shopper: “Thank you. There are so many terrific shops here.”

If you decide to respond, will you say: “No problem”? or “ Happy to help. I am glad that you enjoyed your visit.”

Or, maybe someone holds the door for you as you enter or exit a building. You say: “Thank you” and they say: “No problem” or “My pleasure”. How do you feel after each of these responses?

The words we use to communicate are important. Individually, we can influence another’s experience of our place of work, our business and our community by what we chose to say. NUFF?

Jenny Amy,

Southampton

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Canadian Community News, and thereby its subsidiaries, does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. All comments must be signed and are published at the discretion of the editor


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