I recently read a lot of Katie Funk Wiebe's work. I came away enriched on many levels, but one small thing of value was learning about "weasel words," which I had never heard of before.
I recognized them instantly once described, as the language that I spoke all too often, unwittingly.
In her book, You Never Gave Me a Name, Katie wrote that one of her husband's professors at Syracuse University told her that she used too many "weasel words" like "perhaps" to avoid saying what she meant. A few paragraphs later, she tells how she ended an appeal for reason, by saying, "Perhaps I am wrong in this," and says, "There was that weasel word 'perhaps' again.'
From that moment on I noticed weasel words every time I wrote them or said them, and they seemed to pervade my emails with alarming frequency. I realized how often I weakened a point I really meant, by giving the receiver a way out of agreeing, in order to avoid being "wrong." Suddenly I found myself rereading statements that I thought I had made, only to find that I hadn't made them at all, but only a vague allusion to what I meant!
It was an epiphany, and it has changed the way I communicate. I now aim to be straightforward, to ask directly for what I need, say what I mean because I mean it, and don't bury the power in wording that saps the life out of the point I am making.
Weasel words: Politicians use them on purpose; they are endemic in government-speak--but some of us have no idea that we are infected!
Out with weasel words I say--and in with an opposite concept--representing oneself authentically and clearly. No more fluff and fog.