Leadership Communication - “No Problem”

leadership no problemRecently I have noticed a trend in business communication. It’s the automatic response of, “no problem.” I have heard it from customer service agents, business bankers, computer/IT people and more. It happens in response to inquiries, questions, issues and just about any topic where one needs to communicate with someone else for mutual understanding.  It seems to be the widespread and currently fashionable answer to provide to customers, clients, and colleagues. While intended to make someone feel soothed and assured that whatever is going on is “under control” and will be addressed, corrected, etc. I find myself having the opposite reaction. I have noticed I often feel “cut off” in these conversations with the “no problem,” before I have even expressed what I have to say. I also notice that the “no problem” is usually repeated multiple times in rapid succession and seems to be a quick offensive to deflect whatever I might be about to say next. This only increases my annoyance.

There is also an assumptive quality to the “no problem.” It labels whatever I am saying as an issue, presuming that I am having a problem. What if I’m not? What if I just have a question? Is every question related to a problem? What if I am just trying to understand something? I don’t really want to hear that my effort to understand is “not a problem.” Why would it be a problem?

My suggestion to leaders is that it’s important to consider the type of communication that you encourage within your teams, particularly those that may be meeting with the public and clients. Are you encouraging this “no problem” approach?

We believe that the strongest leadership communication actually starts with listening. Rather than rushing to tell a customer, client or colleague that something is not a problem, it’s important to listen completely to their communication before responding. It’s also important to have a genuine response that is congruent with what the person has just said instead of having an automatic, programmed or scripted response that may or may not actually connect with what was just communicated.

In many organizations the zeal to have consistency in customer service leads to training that includes scripts. While this may seem to be a logical way to create quality interactions the inability of the scripted person to connect authentically can be frustrating and irritating. If your team understands the fundamental principles of presence, good communication and the key messages of your business, they should be able to connect with others in a way that creates genuine satisfaction.

Have you noticed the automatic “no problem” trend? What do you think? Is it annoying or helpful? Is it something you want your team doing?