A coworker and I are hoping for a little professional guidance regarding the use of “no worries” in the corporate world. It’s a phrase we have both found ourselves saying from time-to-time. Is it a gracious response or unintentionally unprofessional?
Thank you for your question. I am happy to share my thoughts on the etiquette of “no worries.”
The phraseology of “no worries” and “no problem” have increasingly crept into common usage in America, both in personal and professional settings. For some, these words have almost become replacements for “You’re welcome” and sometimes, “I’m sorry”. What might seem casual and perfectly acceptable is bad etiquette and creating a deficiency in our interactions. Here’s why:
It dismisses someone’s appreciation.
When someone expresses gratitude, the polite and proper thing to do is accept it appropriately. A better response would be “You’re welcome,” “It was my pleasure, “I’m so glad I could help,” or “I so enjoyed attending this event.” Each of these phrases shows the other party that your actions reflect a deliberate choice to help or connect. Going to the party, picking someone up at the airport, giving a gift all require a “thank you.” Conversely, saying, “no worries” doesn’t feel like a person’s thanks are being rejected.
It doesn’t acknowledge the value of an apology.
Apologizing for a misstep or wrong doing can be agonizing. It takes courage and humility to recognize and admit and error in judgment or behavior. For the receiver of an apology to reject it or dismiss the request for forgiveness is impolite. One might think that responding with a casual “no worries,” could assuage the guilt of the person in the wrong. Perhaps, and it would be acceptable when used in an informal instance such as sitting in someone’s chair or accidentally cutting someone off in friendly conversation. However, when someone has made a greater mistake or hurt feelings, the correct response should be, “Thanks for your apology. I hear you, and I appreciate your effort to make things right again.”
If an apology is accepted and forgiveness granted, it provides the opportunity to move forward and discuss how future interactions can be handled more healthfully. For example, responding to a sincere apology when an employee misses a deadline with “I appreciate your concern. Let’s talk through your workload and determine if there are areas we can adjust so you don’t miss the next deadline.”
It removes the opportunity to share more.
When you respond in an overly informal manner, the chance to share more of yourself and your feelings is eliminated. If someone expresses delight in a gift, consider the difference between responding with “No problem” versus “I’m so glad you like it! I thought about what you would enjoy, and spent the afternoon looking in your favorite store for something special.” As opposed to the first comment, the second response conveys thought and genuine happiness.
Sometimes phrases become common vernacular, and unknowingly, they’re picked up and used without thought. Words are powerful and should be carefully considered before a response. Graciously receiving a compliment or thanks is a way to honor the other person’s actions or effort. Consider your words thoughtfully as they will have a far-reaching impact.