“I’ll take all my things with me.” “Is your stuff ready?” “I’ll be there soon.”
Some words are simply vague. They are easy to throw out in a conversation, but they leave it to the listener to decipher exactly what is meant.
Clarity makes communications more meaningful and productive. Using vague words opens the door to a lot of interpretation. It is your job to convey a clear message; it isn’t the listener’s job to try to interpret what you are saying.
Words like “things”, “stuff”, “soon”, “may”, “try”, “a little”, “slight”, “some” and so many others don’t have much meaning. Listeners will wonder: “what things?” “What stuff?” “When?” “Will you or won’t you?”
Some people use vague words on purpose. These are commonly called weasel words. They give the speaker room to wiggle out of a commitment. People generally see this for what it is. It doesn’t instill trust.
The more important the communication is, to both speaker and listener, the more important it is to strive for clarity. This includes work, volunteer, household and other communications where people are looking for understanding. In other words, it is important most of the time.
The easiest way to eliminate the problem of vague words is to practice being specific. As you speak, picture your intent and then describe it. If it is your intent to pick up the laundry on the way home, instead of saying you’ll pick up the stuff say you’ll pick up the laundry. If it is your intent to finish a report by Thursday morning, say Thursday morning rather than “later this week.” If it is your intent to finish a task by 10:00 but the time table is tight and you are unsure you can achieve that, instead of saying you’ll try to finish by 10:00 say you intend to finish by 10:00 but might be a late if anything unexpected arises. Use the words that will set your listener’s expectations to match your intentions and concerns.
If someone uses vague words with you, instead of trying to figure out what is meant ask for clarification. You can save time and eliminate hassles by coming to clarity on what is meant.
Eliminate vague words and strive for clarity.