“No Problem” . . . a “Seamless Solution”?
During my two decades as a corporate communication trainer, in the mid-1990’s, the term “Seamless Solution” emerged. It spread like wildfire through a drought, dead, California desert until practically every client was offering a “Seamless Solution” for something. It mostly had to do with integrating briskly developing technology which challenged every company. The “Seamless Solution” could be stitched into a customer’s core competencies so intricately no one would ever notice the seam. The homegrown concept of sewing, within the analogy, made the complex understood quickly. The alliteration made it even more memorable. Today, you still hear companies touting “Solutions” to problems customers pay millions to solve. But “Seamless” is mostly gone – tired and overused.
Which brings us to the word, “Problem”. I often advise against use of this word in favor of “Challenge” which carries the connotation of something that can be solved . . . a positive. But in English grammar, we have the phenomenon of the double negative theoretically equaling a positive, thus the emergence of the term, “No Problem” to mean all is well. This term started on the U.S. coasts, and gradually morphed into the Midwest almost ten years ago, where it has remained ubiquitous, like a bad virus, permeating the entire “Sea to Shining Sea”.
Here’s the problem with “No Problem”. Imagine I walk into a Mobil Mart for a cup of coffee – find the cup, choose the type of coffee, press the levers for cream or flavoring, add sweetener, affix the right size top, slide on the cardboard heat shield, and take my fabulous creation to the checkout counter. I offer my 2 bucks, receive my quarter back, and say, “Thank you”. “No problem” is the response. As I turn to leave, what is the last word I heard? “Problem”. So am I to assume that simply because I chose to walk into that establishment and spend my money, that pays his salary, he might possibly have thought in advance I might be a problem to him? Wouldn’t the better response to my “Thank You” be “You’re Welcome”? Then, what is the last word I heard? Now, as the customer, would I rather be a “Problem” or “Welcome”? Have no doubt, that feeling counts. And the more recent Australian version, “No Worries” is no substitute. “You’re Welcome” will always be the “Seamless Solution” to “No Problem” by far.
Copyright 2016 by Janis Murray
All rights reserved.