Sometimes we need help from others. And sometimes others need help from us. Whether it’s with the big things or the small things in life. In fact, it’s rare to go an entire day without thanking someone or being thanked. Carrying groceries, giving rides, and sharing knowledge in an area of expertise are common ways people in community help one another. My grandparents regularly ask me to fix their computer and solve any technology-related problems. A common response to being thanked is “No problem.” The issue with this response is that it contains two of the most hated words in the English language–“No,” and “Problem.” Sure, order and negation matter, but simply saying a word can subconsciously trigger negative associations. And admitting something is “not a problem” doesn’t make anyone feel exceptionally good. The world is not going to end if you keep using this expression. But you can respond in a much more effective way with a simple phrase.
Say “Happy to Help” Instead
“Happy to help” or “I’m happy to help” communicates to people that helping them is something we personally value. We don’t help out of a sense of compulsion but because we joyfully choose to. This can be a perfectly sincere response given the myriad benefits of helping others. Helping others diverts attention from our own problems. It gives us confidence knowing that we are high-value human beings. And it leads to reciprocity down the road from those we live in community with, be they family members, friends, or neighbors. Let alone the instinctive satisfaction of receiving gratitude from others.
The next time someone says “Thank you,” consider it an opportunity to leave an impression. The single best way I have found to do that is with the expression above.