What’s Your Problem? – The Better Newsletter #25


A receptionist at a medical center I presented a program for told me, “I never understood why people were so rude to me when I was so nice to them. Then I realized I used what you call ‘fighting phrases‘ all the time.

Like the word PROBLEM. I used that word without even thinking about it.”

How about you? When:

  • Someone thanks you for something, do you say “No problem.”

  • Someone asks to speak to you, do you say, “Sure, what’s the problem?

  • You end a meeting, do you say, “Any other problems we need to discuss?

  • Someone asks for something, do you say, “I don’t have a problem with that.

  • Pointing out why an idea won’t work, do you say “The problem with that is

Did you know the word problem is defined as “a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be overcome?”

When we use the word problem, people feel unwelcome, that we’re implying something’s wrong with them, and that we view them as someone to overcome.

No one likes feeling like they’re a problem.

Let’s agree to get rid of this “problematic” word and next time:

  • Someone thanks you, say, “You’re welcome,” “Happy to,” or “Anytime.”

  • Someone asks for a moment of your time, say: “Sure, what’s on your mind?

  • You end a meeting, ask, “Anything else to discuss?

  • People make a request, say: “Yes, go ahead with that.

  • You think an idea won’t work, say “What other options can we explore?

Remember, WORDS MATTER! Every single one of them. Make sure your words are giving the impression you are intending them to.


  • Has the word problem become a habit? Could you unintentionally be giving people the “wrong” impression?

  • If so, do what I call CATCH & CORRECT.

    From now on, catch yourself before you say that word – and replace it with a more positive/proactive response that promotes cooperation and prevents an unnecessary conflict.

Until next time… Here’s to being better.

Sam Horn

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