What they say and What they mean- an anonymous blog

Induction for senior roles in Transforming Care: useful phrases to rehearse and use.

We were sent this anonymously and feel obliged to share…an object lesson in how to say everything and do nothing.

Phrase Real meaning When / how it’s useful
I’m absolutely committed to this. I haven’t actually done anything. When nothing concrete to say. Avoids actually agreeing to any action.
Diverts criticism.
We are making good progress, but there’s more to do. We haven’t achieved anywhere near what we said we would and are not likely to. Bigs up what little we have done. Implies that we will do more without actually saying what or committing to anything.
My colleagues in XXXX are working on this I can pass the buck on this issue Moves spotlight/ accountability away from me.
We are reviewing…. Work is continuing, but not necessarily with any urgency, direction or purpose. Does not identify who is doing the work. Buys time.
Can be used to deflect potential questions.
Good delaying tactic.
Looks as though we are doing something.
We will publish our review/ response [e.g. to the report] shortly Holding response. We can take as long as we like since we have not committed to any timescale. The “action” is the review/ report- (i.e. just process) so avoids any real action Buys time.
Implies that no direct action required.
Tried and tested- gives impression of doing something.
Recommendations (when eventually issued) can be vague and/or list what is in place already without needing to commit further resources.
That was so powerful.
I was really moved. Thank you so much for sharing it
I have no defence against that and have no idea what I can do about it Useful when engaging with individuals or families.
Implies empathy without any action needed
Its very distressing to hear that Its nothing to do with me though, so just get on with it Useful to avoid committing to doing anything about it
I’m really interested in what you think we should do I haven’t got a clue what to do They have probably told us loads of times already and we’ve ignored it, but it gives the impression we are listening
I totally get it I really don’t understand at all Gives impression you understand and care
(Silence) This is totally indefensible. Don’t comment on any scandal/ shocking revelation – otherwise may be drawn into accountability.
Use a written statement if pressed so no comeback/ difficult questions
I’m happy to meet with you. My officials will arrange a time to meet. It’s really important that I hear directly from you. This might shut them up for a bit. Suggests / promises further action without actually committing. Allow shortest time possible for the meeting.
Pre-arrange with officials to be “called away on urgent business”.
Make good use of all phrases above during meeting
There are pockets of good practice Someone somewhere is doing the right thing, but its rare and often “despite the system” rather than because of it. There’s nothing I can do to ensure that the regions actually do what’s needed rather than what’s expedient. Diverts attention from missed targets.
Suggesting that “we can learn from this” doesn’t actually mean we do anything apart from perhaps write a short case study and put it on a website.
If a “pocket” is identified, useful to refer to it constantly in meetings