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What is in a Word?

If I said, “I would get right back to you” when are you thinking I will get back to you?

When I ask groups this question, the answers range from a low of 15 minutes to a high of within the week.  Imagine how you would feel if you think it means “15 minutes” and I think it is “within the week.”  You can see the confusion, anger, frustration, and stress that could cause us each time I tell you I will get right back to you.

In business there are what I call “vague terms.”  These are words that don’t have a quantifiable time or meaning attached to them so we can each assign what we would mean if we said that word.

The problem is that this leads to misperceptions, miscommunication and a lot of “righteous” feeling on our part that “we are right” and the other party is wrong.

Take Action: try to get rid of using vague terms.  If you find you use one, immediately quantify it with the other person so they can set realistic expectations that MATCH yours.

If you are in a meeting and someone uses a vague term, don’t let it slide.  Ask them, “When you say soon, what time frame are you thinking?”  Get the EXACT information so you know what to take action on and how.  You will avoid countless hours of frustration for you and the other party!


As the leading Outcome Strategist, Anne Warfield shows people how to say the right thing at the right time every time.  The revolutionary Outcome Focus® Approach shows how to build a candid corporate culture of communication that allows you to lead, present and negotiate transformationally rather than transactionally. When applying Outcome Thinking® our client’s results include sales cycles reducing by 75%, turnover reducing by 30%, silos evaporating, and a 25% savings of time by executives.  Find out how you can maximize your corporate culture for greater productivity and results!  Contact us at 888-imp-9421, visit  www.impressionmanagement.com,  or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .