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.
|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