You’re asked to complete a task and your response starts out, “I’ll try to…”. You are qualifying your response which means that there is already little chance that you will succeed at whatever you say afterward. You are setting yourself up for failure and not giving yourself a very solid reputation either. Unless you were going for mediocre or worse, in which case thumbs up – you’ve arrived.
As my mom used to tell us when we were growing up, expurgate that word from your vocabulary! (Yes, my mom talked to us like this from birth on, someday maybe I’ll tell the story about my 3 year old brother telling grandma that his caterpillar disintegrated.) If you don’t know the word expurgate, I suggest dictionary.com or the dictionary of your choice. Use it, it’s fun to say.
Be definite – I will, I plan, I can, I have. This gives you control, helps you to provide value and establish reasonable expectations. Even if your response is “I have 3 large projects and a handful of small ones in front of this request and I can promise to get this back to you by the end of next week.”, the requester will appreciate your candor. They can also decide, if they need this task done sooner, to take a different tack.
You’ll notice that all my suggested alternatives are not only definite, but positive statements. It is always better to word a response in a positive manner. It is received better and more likely to be accepted even if you are giving unwelcome information.
Best of all, when you have been forthright, you can feel proud when you deliver the task in the time frame promised (or even before if things work out in your favor) instead of finding yourself apologizing when the requester comes to find out what happened with their task.
And yes, I stole the title from Yoda.
© 2012 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations