One of the worst habit phrases you could fall into…
“I’ll get back to you.”
This phrase most often is a “nice” substitute for:
- Hold on a second.
- This isn’t important to me right now.
- I’m too busy to make your priority my priority.
Now, I know you don’t mean it that way …but it can (and has) come across that way. We have all used this phrase multiple times in ministry with staff, volunteers, parents and students.
Whether you oversee a dozen people or hundreds, someone will always have a question for you to answer or a problem to solve. Here’s the ironic part, they really believe that their problem or question is one of the most important things in the ministry…and from their perspective it is. Yes, it’s your job to weigh priorities but how you go about doing it will build or break trust with those that you lead.
I have tried hard not to use the phrase “I’ll get back to you” and instead be completely transparent with them by saying, “I’m so sorry, I may not remember this conversation with all the other ones I’m having right now.”
Shift the responsibility back to them. If it really is a priority to them, they will take one more step to ensure you don’t forget the conversation you had. Be very specific about their next step in the process and give them a timeline…perhaps even give them a choice. In the rush of Sundays being bombarded with questions and decisions to be made, here is my default response.
“Sundays are crazy for me. Would you mind emailing or texting me tomorrow when I have time and space to think about this so I can give you a better response?”
Doing this enough with my leaders and other staff can become somewhat of a broken record but in the long run protects you from making an off the cuff decision you might regret later and gives you the appropriate amount of time to process. On the same note, if they email or text you – GET BACK TO THEM. If you don’t or you delay it’s now on you and you are breaking any trust they have in you.