Just Say ‘You’re Welcome’
This week was our quarterly Leadership Team Meeting at Leadership Network in Dallas. These gatherings are a great time for our team to come together from across the country to connect, share ideas, and think strategically about our future. This was my first opportunity to be involved in much of the design and facilitation of this 3-day event in my new role as Director of Facilitation. I enjoyed the opportunity and look forward to improving on what we did this month.
One of the conversations I was a part of centered around the ‘customer experience’. We shared about our experience as customers and the things that have changed over the last several years. I think we all agreed that customer service in general hasn’t improved over the past decade. If anything, its declined.
We got onto the topic of authenticity in serving others. One of our team members mentioned Chick-fil-a, and how they train their team members to respond with ‘my pleasure’. It is a refreshing response…when uttered out of a sincere desire to serve. When the expression of ‘pleasure’ isn’t authentic, it is easily detected and has a quite negative effect on the customer experience. It reminded me of a parent I served years ago in youth ministry who had a cheerful signature at the end of all her emails. After reading a quite scathing message from her, I was stuck by the insincere, cheery conclusion that followed.
Some things just shouldn’t be automated.
Is There a Problem or Not?
In the midst of this discussion came the observation that very few people say “you’re welcome” anymore. Instead, the more common response is “No problem”. I quickly realized that I have fallen into this habit in responding to the thanks of others. As I reflected on this seemingly insignificant shift in language, I began to wonder if it was insignificant. Could it be an indication of something deeper in the way we view others and our relationships with them?
A few quick thoughts on the two responses:
- The focus is on the other person.
- It expresses an openness to that person.
- There is an implicit invitation to be served again.
- The word ‘welcome’ just sounds positive.
- The focus seems to be more on me. “It wasn’t a problem for me to serve you.”
- It indicates circumstantial convenience. “It was convenient for me to serve you, so it wasn’t a problem.”
- There doesn’t seem to be an invitation to ‘come again’. “It wasn’t a problem…but it could have been.”
- The word ‘problem’ just sounds negative.
Much Ado About Nothing?
Perhaps I’m making too much of this, but there seems to be something there. So, from now on, I’m going to work hard to just say “you’re welcome”. What about you?