I 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.”
“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.