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Verbal Tee-Ups Often Signal Insincerity

Yes. You heard that right. Verbal Tee-Ups Often Signal Insincerity. Why is it so? Vikram. Executive, Leadership and Career Development Coach explains in this article.

Verbal Tee-Ups Often Signal Insincerity

Certain phrases exist that just seem to creep up into what we normally say on a daily basis. We find ourselves suddenly using them after having heard them a few times as we like the way they sound and feel that they might be useful.

Even though these phrases help to buy us a few extra seconds to collect our next thought, they can be somewhat confusing to the listener. These phrases infer the opposite meaning of they literally say. For example: ‘I want you to understand’, ’I’m just saying’ etc. come off as being a little offensive sometimes; they are good as saying, “I’m not saying…” as in “I’m not saying we have to stop seeing each other, but…”

What are these phrases known as? 

Such phrases have a textbook name coined by language expert – performatives or qualifiers. Even though they seem harmless initially, they often signal that some dishonesty on the part of the speaker is about to follow.

They bring the phrase “Another word for deception is politeness” into life as the point is to formalize social relations so that your true self does not get revealed. In other words, it’s a good way to lie if you’re going to do it because you’re not really lying. Therefore, it softens the blow. These sayings signal untruth so frequently, they can be confusing even when used in a neutral context. It’s no wonder that they lead to a collapse in personal communications.

Also referred to as “tee-ups” by people, these phrases have been around for as long as the human language. Although one might not find many major studies related to this topic, it looks like men and women tend to use such phrases, quite frequently. They are being used more fervently, thanks to social media, where phrases such as “As far as I know…” and “I am thinking that…” are used to both avoid committing to a definitive position and manage the impression they make in print.

Awareness regarding image management increases every time things are put into print, such as in email or on social networks, by people. Thus, caveats are made to the statements made by them that operate as a substitute for vocalized hedges. And by doing such hedging—whether in speech or in writing— they are emotionally distancing themselves from their statement, without even knowing it.

Dealing with Tee-Ups

You should consider the possibility that you are saying too many unpleasant things to or about other people if you are feeling the need to use those phrases often. The advice to follow during such situation is to abort your speaking mission and think about whether what you wished to say is something you should say or say what you wished to say without using the phrase. You will be forced to find other more productive ways to be diplomatic after eliminating it.

Another phrase that you should strike from your speech is “To be perfectly honest…” as it often prefaces negative comments and can sound condescending.

It signals a larger issue – Maybe you aren’t always truthful if you are taking the trouble to announce your honesty now.


Tee-ups should be the equivalent of a yellow light. Slow down if you are about to utter one. Think about what you are about to say and proceed with caution. Start by being more aware of the things you say and it will do wonders.

About Yashaswini K

Controversy is the second name of Yashaswini. She goes where something is amiss and picks up the threads to make a clear story out of it. She has also written 2 books in the Radha Srinivasan Mystery Series.

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