One Liner Wednesday – No Worries

One Liner WednesdayI used to think that the expression that drove me the craziest was “no problem.” People say “no problem” all the time when they should be saying “you’re welcome.” How hard is the “Thank you” – “You’re welcome” exchange?

When I was growing up, my dad placed himself in charge of the basic rules of polite social interaction. These included:

A firm handshake.

Please, followed by thank you, if you got what you want and not followed by whining if you didn’t.

How are you?

And, should you be the recipient of the “how are you?” “Fine, thanks, how are you?” Was the only acceptable response.

If someone thanked you for doing something, the response was: “you’re welcome.”

No problem? No way. Now we have “No worries” creeping into the collective lexicon. My mission is to smack it with a shovel before it’s far enough out of its hole to stand up and walk.

Not only is it an annoying expression, I’m not completely sure what it means. And, given the context I often hear it used in, I don’t think most people using it have thought it through.

I would assume that “no worries” is a shorthand way of saying: “hey, don’t worry about that.” Which would be used when I made a mistake, spilled some gunk on someone or questioned somebody’s judgement. In other words, if my father was listening, when I would be at a point where I would be saying “I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry.”

Don’t worry about it” or, if you want me to shake my head, “no worries.”

But I’ve started hearing it in an entirely different context, lately. As if “no worries” is the great diffuser of all awkward situations. Or, as if “no worries” is the new polite form of “don’t get your panties in a twist.”

Let me give you a snippet of a recent sales call I received:

“I noticed that you recently visited our website and downloaded a white-paper on cyber security”

No, I did not. I didn’t visit your website and the last thing I would download is another white-paper on cyber security

Oh, OK, no worries, I’ll make the correction on our end.

How about: “Yikes, I’m sorry. I’ll make sure I get your name off this list.”

I’ve noticed this trend in sales. People call and then begin the conversation with a lie. I’ve been told that “I downloaded” “I requested” and, most recently: “you recently spoke with one of my colleagues about…” Of course, this is going to ultimately lead to another marketing rant, but since I’m 400 words into “one line,” I’ll give it a rest for today. No worries.

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s fun weekly series One-Liner Wednesday.

83 thoughts on “One Liner Wednesday – No Worries

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  1. Oh, Dan–you nailed it. If I am lucky enough to have the sales clerk ask how I’m doing and if I found everything I was looking for (why? do you hide things?), the ultimate is when they tell where I can take my own receipt (let’s don’t go there….), when I say ‘thank you’ they say ‘no worries.’ That worries me….. Texting instead of writing, ‘no worries/problem’ instead of thank you… things have gotten so strange.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks Lois. I love the things the sales clerks just say out of habit. I bought all the repair parts for replacing the wax ring on our toilet, at the local hardware store and the kids said: “have a great day!” I mean, I’m going to be fixing the toilet – how great can that get?

      “No worries” as a response to “Thank you” would worry me too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In and Indian accent – “Hi, I am James, I am calling from the UK and I am not trying to sell you anything”. My response – three lies in a row – you are out! and put the phone down.

    BTW, I think that “no worries” comes from Australia. It has been very common here for a few years. I also had an experience at a local restaurant where after everything you said to the Maitre d’, he answers- “no problem”. As if getting you to your table would ever be one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love how you’ve implemented the “Three strikes rule” for sales calls. “No problem” really bothers me, especially when the implication is that, my buying something from your business would somehow be a problem.

      Like

  3. If someone says “No worries” to me, I am going to be forced to ask what they meant. This new shorthand way of talking [that I think derived from Twitter limiting the characters], to me – is annoying: eg. “Come with?” “No prob.” Just spit it out, words aren’t that difficult!!
    Okay, now I’m ranting…. Thanks, Dan! :)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m glad for all the polite people in this world, but when I started to learn English and heard that the only response to How do you do? is How do you do? I had immediate serious doubts. And if anybody asks me how I am, they are going to get the truth. As for ‘no problem’, this is the favourite thing for a Bosnian to say (“Nema problema!”, very popular during the ’84 Olympic games when the whole world was learning it) to anything at all, so better stay out of Sarajevo for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If I know the person well enough, I might be a little more honest in the response to “how are you” but I try to always remember to ask them as well. I do think that it’s implied that it’s not an essay question. I had a friend once who pointed that out to someone – that was awkward. I don’t think Sarajevo is in my future, but if I visited, I’d accept whatever they say. Your country, your rules.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. There’s the other one I have heard several times in the movies. One person says, “Thank you.” The other replies, “Don’t mention it.”
    They say language is dynamic. Something we make up as we move along. We must be allowed to express ourselves in different creative ways, such as we see fit. Which makes me wonder why grammar teachers are so strict. My high school grammar teacher was exceedingly strict. He’d twist your ear if you made a mistake. He’d pinch so hard when he was done your ear would be blazing hot.
    One day, when we were studying adjectives, he punished a boy for referring to him as ‘grammatical teacher’ (which really made us laugh) instead of ‘grammar teacher’. But after he twisted the boy’s ear, he introduced ‘adjectival nouns’, so we’d know it is correct to say ‘grammar teacher’, ‘high school student’, etc. But from that day on, ‘Grammatical’ became his name in class. Someone would say, “Grammatical Pincher is coming”, and we’d laugh like hell. That same teacher, during the December 2001 holiday, he passed us on the road without seeing us. He passed so close. Later on, my friend, Paul, started calling him Chiroptera. It was fun. High school was fun.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a pretty funny story, Peter. I’m trying to imagine you guys thinking of ways to torment that teacher. “Don’t mention it” has been around for years here, and I’ve never liked it. If it follows in response to “thank you,” I want to say “I already DID mention it and you should say “you’re welcome!”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Did you mean to press 1 for English or 2 for an abbreviated language? :-) I think it is somewhat of an age thing because those of us above a certain age were brought up diagramming sentences, writing cursive, and saying what you mean respectfully. The ones you mentioned annoy me as well, and please add in “gotcha.” Every time a 40 +/- says that to me, it is like someone scraping their nail on a blackboard (which is also an age related thing.) :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judy. Age related, but that the thought of that sound brings a sharp spike of pain up my back. If you want to shorten the response, “thanks” “welcome” would work. I figure “no problem” is here to stay. I’m hoping that maybe we can stop the spread of “no worries” because, so often, it just doesn’t make sense.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m guilty as charged.
    … and I’m unlikely to change my annoying ways, at least when it comes to ‘no prob’ and ‘no worries’.
    … but {no worries, implied} I will try to remember not to use it with you ;)

    Like

  8. I would put “my bad” in the same category as your “no worries.” I think it came out of a Hollywood movie, which explains the dimwit behind that creation. If you are truly sorry, then say so. If you have made a mistake correct it. And if you don’t lie or try to mislead people, then you won’t have to think about some lame words to mask your lack of respect for the person you are speaking with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Are you channeling my father, Bob? I’m pretty sure he’d agree with that response 100%. He was very big about owning up to and correcting mistakes. Even the ones people might not know about.

      Like

  9. I’m a “no problem” girl, but I’ve been trying to change that into “you’re welcome,” or something more appropriate. People tend to have a hard time with “thank you,” as if it were embarrassing. My mom was good at “you shouldn’t have” or “why did you do that?” At one point, I started saying to her, “Be quiet and say thank you.” She’d smirk and finally say the words. No worries, mom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha – I love it when we get to the point that we can say stuff like that to our parents. I guess that means I’m now of an age where I can start expecting to hear such things from our daughter, but I’d rather that than something meaningless.

      I think you’re right the “thank you” being somewhat embarrassing, but I think we should mark the little kindnesses in life, because they’re no longer all that common.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Well, we are in a post-truth world, Dan. It’s disturbing. I don’t mind hearing “no worries” when I’ve messed up and am being forgiven. I don’t like any words, even respectful ones, that involve a scam…that is, if there is such thing as a respectful scam :-D.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No respectful scams. I like David’s response above – “three lies, we’re done here.” I once told a guy that if he lied to our receptionist to get her to put the call through to me, I was pretty sure that he’d lie to me, so I didn’t see any point in continuing the conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Having grown up when grammar was in vogue and taught in schools and loving language, I completely understand, Dan! I read in one of the above comments that “No worries” came from Australia and I think that might be true. At least I thing they use it there. When our girls were growing up, they and their friends inserted “like” into all sorts of places. Drove me crazy. But it’s easy to like fall into that. Whatever!

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember “like” and the trend to start conversations with “so” or “sure” for no apparent reason. When I was in Toastmasters, we had someone assigned to the role of Grammarian in each meeting, and he/she would keep track of those things. If “no worries” cam from Australia, I’ll just assume the full expression is “no worries mate” and it will work if I’ve done something that I’m sorry for. If the other person is in the wrong, I really don’t want to hear it :)

      Liked by 1 person

  12. About 15 years ago, when use of the phrase “No problem” was becoming epidemic, my office agreed on a rule that we would stop using it. We agreed that it was lazy and also energy-lowering, by the fact that it combines two words that are generally negative. The term “You’re welcome” often seemed stilted and awkward, so we mostly settled on responses like, “It’s my pleasure,” or even “It’s a privilege!”–and we were determined that the feeling behind these words would be genuine. That tiny change made a huge difference and our customers/clients responded in equally positive ways. Little things can make a huge difference. Thanks, Dan, for an important reminder.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow, Donna, that’s an uplifting story. Not only did you address the issue, you came up with a way of making it better. These days, businesses that provide respectful customer service really do stand out. It also changes the way I deal with them. It’s hard to stay angry in the face of genuine respect.

      Like

  13. On Monday, Mrs. E drove Sassy home from rehearsal and her truck broke down in our driveway. She was so concerned we wouldn’t want it lingering there, but she wasn’t sure when she’d be able to have it towed away, either. She thanked me relentlessly for letting her truck stay here, and I kept whispering (laryngitis), “No problem. It’s not a big deal. We’re sorry we can’t do more.”
    Then, as I shoveled around her truck yesterday, I thought, gee I hope the snow doesn’t crash any branches on her truck… & it’s gonna be hard to get a tow today…
    Then when I was at work yesterday, she called to ask if I could put the key in it for the towman when I got home, and Thank You, Thank You So Much, I continued to say No Problem.
    I figure, a real problem is not someone’s truck parked in your drive, but having a dead truck. I don’t want her to feel like this matters, like this affects our lives. It is no big deal.
    This morning, she AWAKENED me by telling me that she was in my driveway and wanted to know if I’d be home at 11 to pay the towman. Well, Dan, it’s a problem now! lol So no matter how many times she said thank you and I’m sorry today, I just nodded while the sun blistered my eyeballs.
    I think No Problem is a great thing to say when you want someone to stop thanking you, and No Worries probably goes along with that. I don’t think it’s a good alternative to You’re Welcome or My Apologies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was wondering where the story with the truck was going. Problem, yes, remaining home to pay the tow truck driver exceeds all rules for polite conversation. You’re free to say whatever you like at that point. There’s also the times when you do something truly generous, and there is no “thank you” or acknowledgement of any kind. I don’t know that what the correct response it in that case. I try to avoid the snarky “you’re welcome” in reply to the missing “thank you”

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I have had three calls on my mobile just this week, probably from lawyers, with the opening gambit of, “We see you were involved in a vehicle accident recently.” They know and I know they are lying. I haven’t been involved in an accident for the past thirty years. And I must agree Dan, “No problems” also gets at me. I certainly never meant to be a problem in whatever I did and therefore I don’t have to be told that I wasn’t a problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Don. Yeah, I don’t know exactly when beginning a sales call with one or more lies became popular, but it’s been a long time. It started when they would stretch the truth. Say they call my boss, ‘Bob’ and his secretary said: “oh you should talk to Dan.” If someone said “I reached out to Bob and was directed to you” I’d be OK with that. A lot of those calls now start with: “I was talking to Bob, and he thought you might be interested in hearing about our product…” That call is going nowhere, very quickly. Yeah, that’s a problem, and they should worry about it :)

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m guilty of saying” no worries”, if someone has done something they think is a problem and say, sorry I didn’t mean… or something like that. I say, “no worries” instead of don’t worry about it, or it’s no big deal etc.

    Right now at our house it’s all about Please, Thank you, and You’re welcome: the Magic words. We’re in the midst of teaching #1 Grandson to be polite and what is and isn’t appropriate behavior. Oh the joys of having little ones in the house! He’ll be 4 next week and we’re still trying to get those words, the little polite phrases to be automatic responses. :) Hopefully it will click soon!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It seems as if you’re using it in the right context, Deborah. I won’t take away any bonus points :)

      I’m impressed that you are teaching your grandson. So many parents/grandparents seem to be skipping that step these days. Good luck and thanks, as always for taking the time to comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I started hearing the “no worries” a number of years back from a colleague of mine (Commercial Banking Professional), but it started with “it’s all good….no worries”…which to me sounds like something a stoned person would say…I have to admit, I have used the simple “no worries” version myself if someone accidentally bumps into me and apologizes….all of that said….the “thank you” and “Your welcome” are in short supply in their proper use…..so I end on….”It’s all good…no worries” :)

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Although I’m sure that I’m guilty of a lot of modern jargon, thankfully “no problem” and “no worries” are not part of my repertoire. What drives my husband crazy is this exchange after a radio interview (we listen to a lot of NPR): Host: “Thank you for your insights” (or, something along that line). Guest: “Thank you.” Hubs doesn’t understand why the guest can’t just say “You’re welcome” or “You’re welcome, thank you for having me”? .

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Hmmmm ….. Where do I start with this one? Let me comment on the sales calls first. I screen my calls and if I do not recognize the number, I usually don’t pick up. Mistake today I picked up thinking it may be important. Wrong. I heard … Recently we saw you have visited a resort ….. HUH? Immediately I cut in and this brazen young woman tried to talk over me …. Whoa! I just had to say, “You DO have the wrong person because I have not been on any resort. Good bye!” and hang up. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest! No worries worries me. I ask what you do … what happened to Thank you? Or another instance I tell someone to be polite that I will not be participating in her Christmas bloggy thingie she has going due to time, and her response is “no worries”. What does this mean? Does it mean she is really upset or does it mean it is OK with her? That leaves me in a strange no man’s land because I truly don’t wish to hurt anyone’s feelings. *sigh* Crazy world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice job handling that call, Amy. It’s hard sometimes because the sals folks can be persistent. You illustrate one of the times when I would not be confident that I knew what messgae was being sent. I guess you shouldn’t worry about not participating. I’m not guessing you were worried, but…

      In any case, thanks for your support through out the year.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m with you, Dan! Grew up with the same social standards! Please, thank you, you’re welcome, I’m sorry, etc! I do use no worries when someone apologizes to me about something! That’s it! Thanks for the rant! Merry Christmas! 🎄Christine

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Depending on who it is and what’s the situation I use a mix of “no worries”, “no problem”, “my pleasure”, and good ole fashioned “you’re welcome”.
    The one that I can’t get used to is what I hear most frequently whenever I’m in Atlanta: “uh-huh”.
    I mean WTH? How does “uh-huh” become an acceptable response to thank you?

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I like when someone is sincere. I know this may sound like a disagreement with you, Dan. . . But hear me out, please. (Thank you for reading further. . .)
    If someone says, “No problem!” in a flippant tone, I take offense. If someone says the other phrase “No worries!” without really knowing what you meant to begin with, I get upset. Both times if the person is younger and very sincere, I don’t mind those expressions. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would agree with that, Robin. It only bothers me when these expressions shift the burden to me. If I make a mistake and someone says “no worries” – I’m ok. It’s not the expression I’d use, but I understand. But when they are wrong and they use it, I really have to wonder what they’re trying to say, because I can’t understand why I would worry.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am on the same page, really! My Mom was really adamant about word usage so I am being a little more lenient even though I taught Language Arts in middle school first thing after college. My Mom would answer the phone and if friends would ask if I were there she would pause, say “yes,” and then hang up!

        I didn’t think this was right or “fair.” To this day, one of my friends thought she was being “rude” rather than wanting the caller to ask politely, “May I speak to Robin?” Oh, Mom would say “yes” to the question, “Can I speak to R?” and hang up, too!

        Kids! Proper manners! Ha ha.H ow annoying, Dan. :)

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Starting a conversation with a lie is exactly why I quit call center job, Dan. There are so many parameters to cover that a representative is more worried about covering those than actually solving customer’s problem or query. It made me felt bad within because I knew I wasn’t happy. I once got a negative remark on my profile only because I helped an old lady on the phone to delete cache and cookies on the Internet Explorer. I was told – you should have route her to Internet Explorer department. I was working in MSN Explorer department. In India, many people reply your “thank you” with a “thank you” or “it’s okay” and sometimes welcome. How do you normally start a conversation when you know the representative lied right at the start?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have gotten to the point that I call them out on the lie and end the conversation. I tell them that since they have proven that they will lie to me, there’s no point continuing the conversation.

      I worked in telemarketing for a very short time, many many years ago. I quit for the same reasons.

      Like

  23. Well I hate the lead in lies for sales pitches – argh!
    And in 1992, I dated a guy from Australia and he always said, “no worries, mate” and I wonder if it a colloquial term from there – not sure – and no worries about that (kidding!!!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well thinking of it like that, with an Aussie accent attached, it might be nice. It’s the ‘over the shoulder’ variety that makes me feel more like the true message is meant to shoo me off without further discussion that gets under my skin.

      Liked by 2 people

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