Not sure which phrase will upset a business owner? Don’t worry…
“I got it handled, boss. Don’t worry.”
“We’re on top of it, nothing to worry about.”
The more experience you get, the more you see how the smallest and simplest of things can suddenly become major issues.
If you’re feeling inclined to tell a coworker or supervisor not to worry about something, consider this: they may already know something you don’t. Some people like to do their worrying in advance. You may not have all the facts, or the experience, or the intuition.
“Don’t worry” – it’s designed to be a calming phrase, to help someone relax, often stemming from a combination of optimism, experience, risk management style, or plain old laziness.
Is this the right thing to say? Are you saying it to a business owner? Are they more experienced than you? Some of the brightest CEO’s are worrying when no one else is concerned. Andy Grove’s popular book “Only the Paranoid Survive” was written specifically for this reason. The “don’t worry, be happy” mantra that is casually dispensed as a way to superficially cure “stress” can really backfire if you utter it to a CEO or other leader.
Often this is just a difference in style. Some prefer to address issues only if they arise, others prefer to anticipate them so they are prepared.
If you find yourself worrying much less than a coworker, or a boss or mentor, consider these phrases instead:
“I’m not worried, should I be?”
“This seems like a lot of concern, what are you afraid of?”
“I believe I have this completely handled, but I’m open to any suggestions”
“I must be missing something, this seems fine to me but you don’t seem fine with it”
This shows that you want them to relax, but that you aren’t so presumptuous that you think you “know it all”.
The most experienced people in your business may worry the most. They’ve likely seen more mistakes, more good intentions that backfired, more “no way we could have anticipated that” nightmares transpire. “Don’t worry” rarely is malicious, it’s designed to be helpful. But it’s surprisingly unhelpful. If you’re right, and the person has nothing to worry about, then take the opportunity to educate them rather than leave it in a “trust me” state. By educating them, they will have more information so they don’t need a “don’t worry” assurance later. And if you’re wrong, then “don’t worry” will really hurt your credibility in the future.
Afraid this won’t work? Don’t worry…