The first time I heard “No worries”, I got puzzled and thought: “Hey Man, I am not worried, I’m just being polite”. Later on, I finally got it : In Australia, when you thank someone, you shouldn’t reply “You’re welcome’’, you’d rather say : “No worries”.
I’ve done my homework and I’ve found out this has become a national motto in the 1980’. Crazy isn’t it? In France there is “Liberty Equality Fraternity”, telling about the Revolution and French philosophers. In the US there is “In God we trust”, demonstrating the power of Church and WASP. But what about “No Worries”? What is that supposed to tell?
According to research, the expression illustrates important parts of Australian culture, including amiability, friendliness, mateship, good humor and casual optimism.
Mateship. When you have a medical appointment, the receptionist wouldn’t call for “Miss Smith”, she would say” Hey Stéphanie, how are you today?”. The first time it happened to me I’ve had a look over my shoulder, thinking she might be speaking to her best friend standing behind me. But no, she was talking to me with a very natural friendliness. As Europeans, we often think that American’ warmth might hide some hypocrisy, that in fact they don’t really care about you. But here, in Byron Bay, Australia, when I went back to the doctor a couple of days later, the receptionist was remembering everything about our previous talk. So she wasn’t faking, she was really dealing with me as a mate!
Good humor. They joke. Hotel staff, bus drivers, cashiers, always a good story to share. Even though you don’t smile – Either you don’t find that super funny or you don’t understand a word because of an outback accent – they keep joking. Happy.
Casual optimism. According to many, this might become an issue. My Frazer island’ driver told me: “We have a shitty government, everyone agrees on that, but nobody demonstrates. We all think it’s gonna go away. No worries, right?”
I haven’t been able to find how many demonstrations and strike take place every year in Australia, to compare it with other countries. Should anyone have the answer, I’d be very interested, as it could confirm, or infirm, my drivers’ feelings – He wasn’t the only one to tell me so by the way.
I’ve read a funny article by Chason Gordon, a blogger, warning on misuse of the expression: “You must consider the gravity of the situation when applying the phrase. If somebody killed your dog, slept with your spouse, or enrolled you in a terrorist training camp, you should not try to make them feel better by saying “No worries,” even if it seems really cool.
Your mission, should you decide to accept it: use this expression in a professional context in the next days or so (outside of Australia obviously). Share your experience in the below comments box.