One of the more interesting areas of research that we conduct relates to the awesome power of linguistics, that is, the words we use not only to communicate, but to develop thoughts in our heads.
We all know, for example, that positive words can put us in a positive frame of mind, and that powerful, action words can spice up a sales presentation.
But today, let’s focus on two of the most familiar, yet emotionally charged phrases in the English language . . . “thank you” and “you’re welcome.”
“Thank you” is the ultimate bridge of verbal connectivity between two human beings. It signals a recognition that something of value has just taken place, that a person has done or said something that has made the other person’s life better, at least for a moment. It also displays a certain sophistication and courtesy, a sign that someone is not completely self- centered or entitled, that he or she has a healthy sense of humility and team play.
The same can be said for the phrase, “you’re welcome.” Both words are positive, literally and subliminally.
I am afraid, however, that another phrase is beginning to break this traditional rhythm by replacing the words, “you’re welcome” with a much less positive combination . . . “no problem.”
Now, this might not seem like a big deal, but to linguists it is huge because we have just slipped in two negative words, “no” and “problem,” words that can be delivered and received with a number of different intentions.
I know that personally, when someone says “no problem” to me I often get the impression that it really was a problem, or at least a nuisance. But in any case it does not have nearly the sweet emotional impact as a simple, “you’re welcome.”
I see this change mostly coming up from the younger generations so maybe they are used to it now and when they use the phrase “no problem” it means the same thing to them. But the trouble is, as salespeople, our prospects and clients usually cut a swath across all generational lines.
So be careful, and sensitive, about linguistics and the words you choose. I am one buyer who likes to hear that I am “welcome” when I express my thanks.