Momentum Podcast: 352
Was There A Problem?
by Alex Charfen
How often do you find yourself saying “it's not a problem?”. Language patterns have a tremendous effect on communication. When someone thanks you for something try saying “it's my pleasure” instead of “it's not a problem”. This small shift from dismissive language to inclusive language has helped me so much in coaching, with my team, and with my business. Give it a try and see for yourself how the positive energy grows.
Full Audio Transcript
Alex: When I was younger, I loved Tony Robbins. In fact, I grew up listening to Tony Robbins. I remember, he had the power [inaudible] where the said, "The quality of my life is the quality of my communication." Since then, I've always looked at communication patterns, patterns that people use in speech, thing that I say and how can I improve my communication? Well today, I want to share with you a massive communication improvement, but one that I actually fought at first.
About 10 years ago, I met one of the most intense mentors I ever had in my entire career. His name was Howard Brinton. He owned a company called Star Power that Cadey and I actually ended up working with him, helping him promote his events. He helped us get the [CDP] off the ground, our first real estate information product. In fact, Howard was one of the people who introduced us to RE/MAX which became one of the most important business relationships we had in that entire business, but also one of the most intense personal relationships that I've ever had with Dave Liniger, the CEO of RE/MAX. Howard was just one of the greatest communicators I've ever met. People loved him. They fell in-love with him. They respected him like crazy.
I didn't have that affect on people back then, maybe I do now. But, I've always been seen as somebody who's very blunt and direct, and to the point, and I often have trouble communicating and sometimes, I even make team members of mine feel bad or feel frustrated or upset. Howard was one of the people who coached me and how helped me through that, and who helped me with a lot of communication. What's interesting is there was one community pattern that he wanted to help me with and I didn't listen to him at first. I remember one time, I did something for him and he called me. Actually, we sold a bunch of tickets to one of his events. He called me and he's like, "You know, Alex? I just want to tell you thank you. It's so great. We weren't going to fill to capacity. We were actually going to lose money on the event. You got enough people there that we're actually going to be profitable."
I was like, "No problem, Howard." He said, "No problem? But I wasn't saying there was a problem. I was saying thank you," and I was like, what is he doing? What's going on right now? Howard said, "Alex, I'm going to challenge you to not say that anymore." I was like, "What do you mean?" He said, "Nobody knows there's a problem. When you say "no problem" you're actually begging the question like "Was there a problem? Is there a problem?" It's just not an empowering way to say "You're welcome" to somebody." He said, "I want you to try something. I want you to start saying "It's my pleasure" from now on." I remember when he said that, it's like there's something about saying "It's my pleasure" that I just didn't like. In fact, he didn't let up. He went on and she shared a story. He said, "Alex, I want to tell you something."
"You know, a few years ago, I was at a restaurant and I was watching this girl waiting on tables. We're going to be in town for two or three days, and I was watching her. She was saying, "Not a problem" or "It's not a problem," to people or "No problem" when they would ask for stuff. I stopped her and I said, "Hey, I've got a challenge for you. If for the rest of the day, when somebody asks you for something say "It's my pleasure" instead and I want you to tell me if your tips are any better. I'm going to come back and I'm going to check in on you, and I want you to tell me if your tips are any better than they normally would be." Howard was at a conference or something and so, he left the restaurant. He went to his conference.
The restaurant was nearby and Howard was absolutely the type of guy who actually went back to the restaurant, he shared this story with me and he said, he went back and he talked to the waitress and she told him that she had been saying "It's my pleasure" all day and it was one of the biggest days of tips that she'd ever had. Howard said, "It's because you're not telling people there's a problem anymore." I remember when he explained all of this to me, I was like, "This is so hokey. What's the difference between saying "No problem" and "My pleasure"? It makes me feel kind of weird because sometimes I'm saying, "Hey, it wasn't a problem," but it wasn't really my pleasure and I just couldn't get my head around it, and I really fought against it.
But then what happened was, I started working with Howard more and more. He was helping us more and he kept hearing me saying "No problem" and finally, he said like, "Hey, you're not listening to me on this." So, there was a day where he came in to talk to my team. I actually flew him into town. He was an incredible public speaker. He came in and we had a team of about 30 people and Howard and I did an interview. In fact, it was one of the most intense things I've ever seen. Howard was dying. He had bone cancer. He was having trouble getting around that's why Cady and I were doing so much work with him. I was helping him with some stuff and making sure that he had what he needed to have in order. He was literally getting trouble getting out of bed, but he flew down to see us. We had a window where he was feeling good.
I remember, he got out of the car, out in front of my office and he was having trouble getting out of the car, and we got him into the office. We went back and we gathered our team around, and he and I sat down and we recorded the whole thing. The second the camera's turned on, he became the Howard that everybody knew. We did this interview for my team and then, we put it out to the real estate industry and it was just amazing. For two hours, he just crushed it and it was intense, and it was this phenomenal way that he spoke. During that interview, he brought up the difference between "No problem" or "You're welcome" and "It's my pleasure." He told my whole team, in front of me because he knew that I wasn't doing it that if they did this, that they would get a different response from people and they would have a different outcome from people and people would feel more taken care of.
Once he did that, I had to start using "It's my pleasure." Once we've finished that interview, my entire team started doing it, they started doing in-customer services, they started doing it in the communication with each other and then, I started doing it, too. I can't believe I fought against it because within just a few weeks of starting to use, "It's my pleasure" instead of "No problem" like I normally did, I started realizing this intense different of an effect that it had on people, and how much more it bought from people and how much more it got from people, and how much more just that simple phrase had an impact on the people around me than saying, "No problem."
Even to this day, I'll get messages from people who will say, "You know, I just loved dealing with you and your team. Everybody says "It's my pleasure" and it just makes me feel so taken care of." They actually point out the fact that we say that. It's one of those simple things that it takes hardly any change or any energy at all to shift, but if you start saying instead of "You're welcome," or "No problem," or "You got it," "It's my pleasure," you'll be shocked at how quickly the world around you shifts and how just like that waitress who had the biggest day of tips, you start seeing positive fallout from this type of conversation. You start seeing the positive effect from saying "It's my pleasure."
So, this might be a little tribute to Howard but it's an important one because this simple language pattern shift has helped me a tremendous amount in coaching, in leading the team, and working with other people. I know it will help you, too. So, don't say "It's not a problem" because there wasn't a problem in the first place. Say, "It's my pleasure" and you will see people shift and you'll see the energy of the communication totally change as well. Once I started doing it, I realized, there's a huge, energetic difference between saying "No problem" which is kind of dismissive and "It's my pleasure" which is kind of inclusive, and you'll see the same energetic shift as well.
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