One of your team members is organizing a workshop on Friday. On Thursday, she calls in sick and asks you to fill in. Plot twist: The materials she sends you are clearly unfinished. Being an awesome co-worker, you rearrange your entire schedule and stay late to make sure everything is impeccable.
Come the day of the workshop, you rise, you shine, and deliver a great performance.
On Monday, when she returns and thanks you for your support, you reply that it was “no problem.”
Except, truth talk: It was a problem—one you took care of! And by acting like it wasn’t, you’re signaling to your co-workers that you’re happy for them to take advantage of you.
Translation: You’re making yourself a pushover.
When you go out of your way to help someone, it takes time and effort. That part’s OK, but belittling all of that by following it up with this overly low-key phrase isn’t. How many times has it earned you the respect, gratitude and appreciation of your co-workers, team member and bosses? Or have they just thought, OK great and not given it another thought?
What to Say Instead
The solution is as simple as swapping out one two-word phrase for another: “You’re welcome.”
- It doesn’t depreciate the value of your work.
- It makes no reference to difficulty.
- It’s not an open invitation to give you more of the same tasks.
You co-worker knows they asked you for a favor, and this phrase helps you hit the perfect middle ground. You’re not complaining about how much of an inconvenience it was (which would make them wonder why you agreed in the first place), and you’re not underplaying (and normalizing!) it either.
I decided to put it to the test, and over the past few weeks, I’ve been defaulting to “you’re welcome” instead of “no problem.” It’s left me feeling a lot better! I’m not playing myself down, so I keep my sense of pride about my accomplishments. I get less requests to rescue a drowning project. And, I feel like I’m being more honest—both with myself and others.
The biggest realization I’ve had has been that I love helping others. Especially, since people now seem to appreciate what I do for them a lot more. I’m no longer a firefighter, rushing from emergency to emergency. Instead, I feel more like a leader.
Swapping two words is all it took.
Ready to make the switch? Try it and tell me how it goes
TopicsSucceeding on the Job , Tools & Skills , Syndication , Communication , The Muse Editor's Picks
When Nik isn’t munching on a slice of delicious pizza, he’s writing. He answers questions on Quora every day and publishes weekly articles on his website. An avid reader, he’s also building a portfolio of book summaries on Four Minute Books. Want to say hi? Ping him on Twitter.More from this Author