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'No worries if not!!!' is the new way women are selling themselves short at work.

Just when you got out of the habit of starting every work email with just, there’s a new phrase infiltrating our office communication.

In four simple words, we’ve found a new way to soften the blow when asking for things at work.

‘No worries if not…’

Or, more accurately, ‘No worries if not!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’

Trust me, this tiny, non-offensive phrase can’t be unseen. It’s instantly familiar. Type it into the search bar of Skype, Slack or your inbox, and you’ll likely get hundreds of results.

Side note – here’s how each of the star signs reacts when there’s a problem at work. It’s very accurate. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

I twigged to my own use of this phrase after reading about a viral tweet on the subject on Refinery29.

Freelance writer and content creator Marianne Eloise caught herself using ‘no worries if not’ when following up invoices or negotiating her compensation.

A self-labelled people pleaser, she found most of her emails and messages were couched in apology: “Sorry to bother you”, “I’m probably wrong but…”, “I know you’re busy”.

“I already know I use ‘no worries if not’ as a cheery way to cloak my insecurity and fears that the person receiving the message will have no interest. I’m setting it up pre-emptively, both so that they can reject me and not feel bad, and I can feel like I am less keen,” Eloise wrote for the publication.

Annoyed at herself one night, she decided to channel her frustration into a tweet. And is struck a nerve.

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It resonated with people – mostly women, Eloise found – because it’s how we end workplace requests to soften the blow or downplay our authority.

It goes a little something like this:

Hi so and so,

Getting in touch regarding the Milkshake Project.

The client requires their chocolate milkshake by midday and you’re closest to the kitchen. Can you please organise that and make sure the milk doesn’t curdle?

No worries if not!

Thanks

But… it’s not ‘no worries’ if ‘not’.

Regardless of how many exclamation points you used, there is much worry.

That’s why you’re… asking them to do it.

It’s yet another way we’re selling ourselves short at work. Instead of prefacing every point of contact with ‘Just reaching out’ or ‘Just checking in’, we’re now giving each task a caveat. A disclaimer of sorts that makes a work-related request more palatable.

Using emojis at work is a whole other can of worms and Mamamia Out Loud unpacked it below. Post continues after audio.

Scrolling up through my group chat, I’ve realised I do the same thing in my social life.

‘Remember how I invited you to X, Y and Z ages ago, can you give me an answer when you can? No worries if not!!!!!!!’

‘No worries if not (!!!!), but can you pay me back the $40 I leant you for dinner 12 years ago?’

‘Sorry to be a pain, can you please RSVP to my wedding? NO WORRIES IF NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) :) :) :) :)’

Again, there is much worry on the shoulders of the person asking in all of these situations.

Whether in your personal or professional life, the way we use language matters. And in this case, we’re using it to devalue the importance of what we do. For some, it’s also about calming the fear of being accused of being blunt or rude or pushy or hard to work with.

But are we so afraid of how our colleagues perceive us that we can’t expect a task to be done when asked? Or do we feel guilty for not adding it to our own full plates? I suspect it’s a bit of both.

Instead of tacking ‘no worries if not’ onto questions or directions, why not switch it out for something like ‘let me know how you go’ or ‘sing out if you come up against any roadblocks’?

And eventually, just like with just, you’ll be able to pick yourself up, hit backspace and say what you really mean.

So next time you find yourself going to give someone the option of ‘not’, remember why you’re asking them in the first place.

But still, no worries if not!

You can read Marianne Eloise’s full story, “No Worries If Not!”: The Apologetic Phrase Women Can’t Stop Using, here.

Have you ever used the phrase ‘no worries of not’ at work? Why do you think you do it? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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