I pride myself on being someone who is keenly aware of the underlying meaning of words and the ways in which we say them. Being this way is both a gift and a curse, yet it forces me to be very conscious of the words I’m using to express myself.
This is all well and great until you realise you’ve been misunderstood. *gasp*.
While on a company meet-up trip a few years ago, I was chatting with a colleague of mine. He asked a question, to which I replied “Sure. I’ll be there with you now now”. Now, “now now” is a very South African way of saying “in a few minutes”. Queue misunderstanding! He thought I meant “now, now, there there, little one” as in a belittling term. Hearing it out loud made a whole lot more sense to his understanding. I’d been saying “now now” over daily text chat for months!
*phew*. I’m glad we cleared that one up!
No problem / No worries
This is also quite a common phrase in many cultures. Often used as a substitute for “it’s a pleasure” or “you’re welcome”, “no problem” or “no worries” is used as a response to an expression of gratitude.
Stop for a moment. Someone is saying something nice to you, and you respond with the words “no” and “problem” (both negative words)? Surely that doesn’t seem correct. As odd a language as English is, many of us don’t realise that we’re responding to a positive with two negative words. While two negatives equals a positive in mathematics, this is English.
While recently conducting my support rotation to kick-start my career with Automattic, I read many insightful message board posts from various Happiness Engineers at Automattic about wording, phrasing, how to guide users, and how to use the Oxford comma (keenly used in this sentence, might I add). While reading, the above realisation about “no problem” dawned on me.
So, since then, I’m doing my utmost best to replace all instances of “no problem”, “no worries”, and “it’s a pleasure” with “you’re welcome”. This statement feels, to me, to be the appropriate response to “thank you very much”.
Coincidentally, saying “you’re welcome” brings a smile to my face, as well as to the face of the recipient.