Weasel words give a person an out. They are a way of saying something without making a commitment. When we are saying that we will get back to a person as soon as we can, we are not making a commitment to that person. In fact, what we are saying is that their question or issue isn’t that important and we’ll address it when we feel like it. When I was pastor of a church I reminded a young man of an event that was coming up and he should plan on being there. He responded he would be there if nothing came up. Several of us were standing there at the time, including his father-in-law, and we all began to laugh. What he was, perhaps unconsciously, saying was that this event wasn’t a priority to him and if he couldn’t find a good reason not to go he might attend. BTW – He did attend, and we have often teased him about his response.
When we tell someone we are going to do something we need to make a positive commitment to do it. If we cannot make that positive commitment we need to be upfront and tell the person that.
For many of us, one of the hardest things to tell someone is no. We believe that if we tell them no we will hurt their feelings. Maybe so, but we won’t hurt their feelings if we’ve responded to their request with weasel words and they’ve heard a commitment on our part.
In my auction business I sometimes have to tell people the things they want me to sell are not worth anything. One lady asked me to sell several items for her so they could afford to pay for their rising medicine costs. When I looked at what she wanted to sell I knew there was no market for it. I could see the hurt in her eyes when I told her that, but I would much rather hurt her then than to hurt her even worse when she received a check that would have been even more disappointing.
I realize that sometimes we make a firm commitment to someone and something does come up that makes it impossible to keep that commitment. We were not guilty of using weasel words; unexpected things just happen sometimes. When that happens, make an immediate call to let them know what’s happened and offer another time when you can do what you said you would do. That’s better than leaving the person hanging and questioning your credibility.
If you want to be successful in your chosen field, avoid weasel words. Make commitments and keep them.