Edit ModuleShow Tags

Chef Laura: Double negatives equal double trouble


Published:

There are some innocuous phrases business people tend to use.  These disposable words range from neutral to annoying:

  1.  So basically….
  2. At the end of the day….
  3. Think outside the box.
  4. Let’s flesh* that (idea) out.

*Also heard as “flush,” which is exactly what I want to do with this wordsmith gem.

But have you ever made a request to a service provider or asked a coworker for a favor and they reply, “No problem!”? 

Well, I’m here to tell you it is a problem.

“No problem!” seems harmless enough – even downright cheery.  Kind of like “No worries” to the Aussies or “Fuggedaboutit” to Al Pacino.

When we say “No problem,” what we mean is that the request potentially is a problem and we’re not really interested in doing this favor.  But we are forced to comply; hence, “No problem” nonchalantly rolls off the tongue. 

Saying something negative: “no”, plus another negative: “problem”, equals a positive in the English language.  However, as service providers, we shouldn’t initiate something negative – that’s usually the customer’s job.

That’s the reason, when I managed restaurants, I trained my employees to eliminate this response, both with customers and each other.

Sports psychologist Bob Rotella warns that these seemingly harmless double negatives can have adverse affects.  He urges golf coaches to stop voicing advice like, “Don’t go left” when their divot-digging disciple approaches the tee.

“Left” is the last word the golfer hears.  Even though they want to hit straight down the fairway, their brain whispers “left.”  Inevitably they hook their Titleist onto the beach.  When I hear a customer service person quip “No problem!” I think of my well-meaning, yet subliminally harmful, golf buddies. 

Solution?  Choose one of these “No problem” alternatives instead:

  1.  Yes
  2. Certainly
  3. My pleasure
  4. Right away
  5. Let me take care of that for you
  6. You’re welcome
  7. I will find out for you

So basically, at the end of the day, think outside the box, and flesh out some phrases in your business vocabulary that are useless or potentially negative. Then, flush those down the loo. No problem!

Edit Module
Laura Cook Newman

Laura Cook Newman is a professional Chef and Training Manager for a Fortune 500 food manufacturer. She earned her chops at Johnson & Wales University, has an MBA in Marketing and hosts a blog for behind-the-scenes insights on the food service industry. Contact her at www.ThreeHotsAndaCot.net

Get more of our current issue | Subscribe to the magazine | Get our Free e-newsletter

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Articles

How to spring clean your mind for more joy and confidence

Restore your mind to freshness this spring as you clean out the old tenants of negative thinking and renew your mind with uplifting and refreshing thoughts and perceptions.

It’s now or never – Reinventing your business

I’m not saying, don’t worry. I’m saying, ask yourself the right questions: Is this the right time? Right product? Perfect combo? Will they come? Will this detract from my current product line offerings (and revenue)?

What does your bank know that you don’t?

Banks tend to follow the cyclical nature of the economy with more lending at the beginning of a cycle and less later in the cycle. If we look at the last recession, toward the tail end of the cycle we started to see banks tighten their criteria.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags