Phrases Good Communicators Don't Use

Communication Skills

Such As: I Don't Disagree With That

Directness counts, especially when we're trying to communicate effectively.

We should avoid using weasel phrases such as, "I don't disagree."

I was having lunch on the patio of a casual restaurant, and between bites of my crisp salad, I overheard a man in a business suit say to his lunch mate:

I don’t disagree with that.

I’ve heard this phrase before, first and foremost from a lawyer, and I’ve always found it irksome, along with other weasel words and phrases.

What does I don’t disagree with that say?

Actually, it says nothing, at least directly.

If you don’t disagree, does it mean you agree?

Are you open to agreeing?

And what does this phrase replace, except a perfectly serviceable grunt such as uh-huh?

Are those who don’t disagree so concerned that they’ll go on the record for assenting to something that could haunt them later if they just let what they heard pass without comment?

Do they feel obligated to judge each and everything that comes along?

After law school, I had to make a real effort to STOP sounding like a lawyer in the interest of getting along with my consulting clients, who by the way, were seeking me out for my communication abilities.

Like a reformed anything, perhaps I’m acutely antagonistic about symptoms of that from which I feel I’ve extricated myself.

Ex-smokers are often the most vocal about sidestream smoke, and I lament the use of circumlocutions such as I don’t disagree.

Anyway, that couple on the patio could have been discussing dessert for all I know, one of them saying

A piece of pie would be nice.

Why can’t the other just fess up to wanting a slice, too?

This article was contributed by Dr Gary S. Goodman

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