Paddy Upton

‘no worries bud’

‘no worries’, ‘no problem’, ‘no sweat’ is not the same as ‘my pleasure’, but we often (and erroneously) use it as such…

A colleague recently did a really good job in helping me with some difficulties around a particular project we were both involved in. His efforts meant that things eventually worked out well for both of us. It left me with a feeling of gratitude and connectedness. With these warm feelings informing my words, I sent him a sincere message of thanks. His reply was a brief, ‘no worries bud’.

It was like a splash of cold water on my enthusiasm.

‘No worries bud’… Ok. So at least I can be glad that it didn’t cause you any worries; that there was an absence of negative for you. Even though I thought there was loads of positive…

Maybe I’m being overly sensitive. Or maybe you were just being lazy with your communication. Either way, thank you for teaching me to never use the phrase ‘no worries’, when ‘my pleasure’ is an authentic alternative.

I wondered how many times I might have used the habitual phrases ‘not bad’, ‘no worries’, ‘no sweat’, ‘no hassle’, etc, when that’s not what I really meant. And I wonder how much cold water this might have poured on other people’s enthusiasm. Imagine your child spending hours doing their child-like drawing, and upon enthusiastically showing it to you, you reply ‘not bad’. Or an employee does a good job, or your partner cooks your favourite meal, and your feedback is ‘not bad’. A rather ineffective way to motivate anyone, if motivating them is of any interest.

One corollary is that body language, especially facial expressions of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ things, and the tone of our voice convey significantly more information than the words we use. So if you smiled broadly, your eyes lit up and your arms spread open as you said ‘not bad’ to your child’s drawing or that tasty meal, then your body language will more than cover for your poor choice of words.

But if, like with my colleague, the ‘not bad’ or ‘no worries bud’ is written in an email or a text message, as much of our communication is today, then words are the only evidence I have to go on. It’s not a bad response, but it’s also not good.

PS: I hope this article is not bad.