No Problem? No Thanks.

No Problem? No Thanks.

by Kathleen Watson

kindness quote

I encourage people to speak—and write—words of thanks in both their personal and business lives. We all like to know our efforts are recognized and appreciated.

Whenever I have a book event or am invited to speak about self-publishing or grammar, I always send a handwritten note to the person who provided me with the opportunity.

If others were helpful—perhaps a bookstore clerk brought me a bottle of water, or maybe one met my request to put copies of my grammar quiz in the break room for staff members—I get their names and mention them as well.

Expressing thanks is important, but what about accepting thanks? Do you do it graciously?

“No problem” so often is uttered in reply to a spoken expression of thanks. I despair at nO PROBLEMthe lack of civility and graciousness in much of today’s public discourse. The utterance “no problem” is anything but gracious. In fact, I consider it shorthand for “It was not a problem for me to help you.”

Consider whether it ever should be a problem or imposition for us to render help to someone.

“No problem” is an even more inappropriate response when the help for which you have thanked someone is a service you in essence are paying for: a cashier handing you change and a receipt; a bagger at the supermarket handing you your tote of groceries; a flight attendant pouring you a cup of coffee.

Add to that the negative connotations of the words “no” and “problem,” and it’s easy to see why these responses are better:glad i could help

  • You’re welcome.
  • My pleasure.
  • I was happy to do it.
  • I’m glad I could help.

I think we all try to be a bit more thoughtful and considerate at this time of year. Let’s be positive and gracious when acknowledging someone’s expression of thanks. It might serve as a small step in elevating the tone of our discourse in general.


Kathleen Watson has nearly three decades of experience as an independent business writer, serving clients in both corporate and academic settings. Her weekly blog, Killer Tips from The Ruthless Editor, offers practical word and punctuation tips, as does her recently published book Grammar For People Who Hate Rules: Killer Tips From The Ruthless Editor. Contact her at:

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