(This entry first appeared in October 2008. I sent it as an email blast for an internal communication project with the title, Writer’s Toolbox: The Power of Words – Part Two.)
“No problem” is one of the alternative replies people use in lieu of “You’re welcome,” “Sure,” or even “Anytime.” Although this phrase conveys the idea that a person is capable of handling a situation/ request for help, it comes across as negative because what the listener hears last is the word ‘problem.’
‘Problem,’ no matter how we look at it, is often perceived as something that requires a lot of effort, needs to be hurdled, takes time to accomplish, and so on. A request sounds like a ‘chore’ even though the person giving assistance is more than happy to help/ to be of service to his colleagues, friends, and family members.
What other alternatives are there then? Aside from the three mentioned above, you can also use, “Glad to be of help.” or “It’s my pleasure.” If these come across as too formal, especially if you’re not from the service industry, simply say, “My pleasure!”
Note that because these words convey sincerity, people will find it easy to approach you again for help. Surely that’s not a problem.